Wine for Normal People

By Wine for Normal People

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A Podcast Republic user
 Jan 20, 2021

winelawn
 Aug 29, 2020
Best wine podcast out there. Great for newbies to enthusiasts.

Description

A podcast for people who like wine but not the snobbery that goes with it. We talk about wine in a fun, straightforward, normal way to get you excited about it and help you drink better, more interesting stuff. The Wine For Normal People book is available on Amazon! Back catalog available at http://winefornormalpeople.libsyn.com.

Episode Date
Ep 397: The World of Online Wine Auctions with WineBid CEO Russ Mann
51:42

WineBid is the largest online auction site for wine and it's been around for 25 years. Founded in 1996 by a wine collector in Chicago, WineBid has grown over the years to develop the technology, logistics, and customer service to acquire over 100,000 registered bidders.

 

Russ Mann, CEO WineBid

 

In this show, Russ Mann, CEO of WineBid, breaks down the entire wine auction market – from live -scratching-your-nose-to-bid events, to charity auctions, to online auctions. I can’t tell you how much I learned from this show and how excited I am to start bidding and buying wine from WineBid. I was hesitant before but I think I can do this -- you should listen and you'll feel the same! 

 

___________________________________

Registration for the FREE Wines of the Médoc Class is here: 

 

Session 2, October 28, at 8 PM Eastern

 

Thanks for our sponsors this week:

Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal

To become a member of Patreon go to www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

Oct 25, 2021
Ep 396: Halloween Candy and Wine Pairings Revisited
45:37

We scoured the internet to find commonly recommended pairings, so we could actually try them and tell you if any of these things actually work. Much like our prior episode, the news isn’t great, but we did find a few diamonds in the rough, including an extremely surprising combo that I thought could be lethal! Patrons Kelsey and Colby Eliades guest host with me to power through this episode and sum up the things we learned about candy pairings – what works, what doesn’t, and why!

 

Here are the combos we tested…

  • Pop rocks with Prosecco

 

  • Candy corn with Prosecco and Moscato d’Asti


  • Gummy worms with Rosé

 

  • Sour Patch Kids with off-dry Riesling

 

  • Starburst and Moscato d’Asti

 

  • Twizzlers, and Swedish Fish with Beaujolais

 

  • Kit Kat with Pinot Noir

 

  • Peppermint Patties with Syrah

 

  • Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and Reese’s Pieces with Lambrusco  


  • Hershey's bars and Whoppers with Zinfandel


  • Port-style Zinfandel with M&Ms, Snickers, Twix, Heath bar

 

And, so concludes my attempt at pairing wine with Halloween candy. We did the encore, I am so thankful for Kelsey and Colby for participating, and now I'm never doing this again 😂😂😂!

 

____________________________________________________________

Registration for the FREE Wines of the Médoc Class is here: 

Session 1, October 21 at 8 PM Eastern

Session 2, October 28, at 8 PM Eastern

 

Thanks for our sponsors this week:

Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal

To become a member of Patreon go to www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

Oct 18, 2021
Ep 395: Walla Walla, Washington's Caprio Cellars and Its Estate Wines
43:12

Caprio Cellars makes wines from estate vineyards in the Walla Walla viticultural area of eastern Washington. Owner and winemaker, Dennis Murphy crafts wines mainly from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from his three Walla Walla vineyards, one of which is named after his Italian grandmother Eleanor Caprio, and another for his great grandmother Sanitella Caprio.

In the show, Dennis shares some good information about Walla Walla and its climate, soils, and the region’s unique position in the wine world. The bulk of the show is dedicated to my conversation with him, and he gives us a different perspective from others we’ve talked to in Walla Walla, like Sleight of Hand Cellars (who doesn’t love Jerry Solomon and Episode 295) and Amavi/ Pepperbridge (Eric McKibben rocks out Episode 294). But a lot of Dennis's references are to seminal figures in the Walla Walla wine industry.

 

Photo: Dennis Murphy, Caprio Cellars

Given that, in the first part of the show, I spend a few minutes telling you about the founding figures in the Walla Walla wine industry.  Not only does this help in explaining the references, it sets you up to understand all of Walla Walla -- if you ever talk to anyone about the region or go visit, these names will come up over and over again. They are...

 

  1. Norm McKibben. A founding father of Walla Walla’s wine industry, and he founded Pepper Bridge Cellars and Amavi. His mentorship, forward thinking attitude (he was an early proponent of sustainability), and openness are a big part of the success of Walla Walla.


  2. Jean-Francois Pellet is the Director of Winemaking and a partner at Pepper Bridge and Amavi. He was born and raised in Switzerland, and is a third-generation wine grower. After working in vineyards around Europe and for Heitz Cellars in the Napa Valley, he was recruited by Norm to Pepper Bridge  and also helped start Amavi. He is an active partner in the businessl and an important force in the Walla Walla wine scene.


  3. Marty Clubb is Managing Winemaker and co-owner of L’Ecole N° 41 with his wife, Megan, and their children, Riley and Rebecca.  Megan’s parents, Jean and Baker Ferguson, founded L’Ecole in 1983. In 1989, Marty and Megan moved to Walla Walla and Marty became manager and winemaker of L’Ecole.  Marty, along with Norm McKibben and Gary Figgins (see below) were the three most important figures in starting viticulture in the Walla Walla Valley.  Marty is one of the most revered figures in Walla Walla.

 

  1. Gary Figgins is the founder of Leonetti Cellar, which was Walla Walla’s first commercial winery. The Figgins family has been in Walla Walla for over a century and Gary learned viticulture from his uncles, who were farmers. He is self-taught and has done miraculous things for Walla Walla – Leonetti’s wines were among the first to gain high scores and national recognition for the valley. Gary and his wife Nancy passed on the winery to their kids, Chris and Amy, but Gary is a major figure in the development of Walla Walla and is still active in vineyard consulting.

 

  1. Christophe Baron is a native of Champagne and came to Walla Walla in 1993 while doing an internship at a vineyard in Oregon. He saw the famed “rocks” of the Milton-Freewater district that looked like the puddingstone in Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and decided to buy 10 acres for his Cayuse Vineyards. The waitlist for the winery is many years deep, so Cayuse’s wines are only available to us on the secondary market (auctions and stuff – there is a podcast to come on auctions that will make that secondary market easy to understand!). He's essential to helping make Walla Walla wine a coveted, hard to get luxury!

 

Dennis Murphy mentions other important wineries: Gramercy Cellars, Va Piano, and Hanatoro, to name a few! 

 

Finally, we discuss a few vineyards:

  • Seven Hills and Sevein: These are top vineyards of Walla Walla. They have unique soils and are managed by the founding fathers of Walla Walla – Norm McKibben, Marty, Clubb, Gary Figgins, and a few others, with many top wineries sourcing from this land.

Photo: Seven Hills Vineyard

After the intro, Dennis and I discuss Caprio, and its vineyards and its wines, which are quite tasty. Dennis discusses winemaking techniques, viticulture and sustainability, and his unique, very welcoming hospitality model. He has recently purchased a stake in Pepper Bridge and Amavi, so we discuss that briefly as well.

 

If you haven't been to Walla Walla, put it on the list. In many ways it represents the. best of the American wine industry -- collegial, entrepreneurial, with a focus on hard work and quality. Who could ask for more?

 

Photo: Caprio Cellars

_________________________________________________________________

Registration for the FREE Wines of the Médoc Class is here: 

Session 1, October 21 at 8 PM Eastern

Session 2, October 28, at 8 PM Eastern

 

Thanks for our sponsors this week:

Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal

To become a member of Patreon go to www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

Oct 12, 2021
Ep 394: Germany Overview
56:34

After 10.5 years of doing the podcast I realized that we have never done an overview of Germany! Details, yes, but never the whole deal. Well, now we have.

Photo credit: Pexels

We discuss an overview of the most important things to know about Germany so you can buy and try the wines more easily. We begin with an overview of the German wine industry, and a reassurance that most of the stuff for export is pretty darn good. Then we tackle the climate and land, both which are completely unlikely places for great viticulture, but for a few dedicated people and a few quirks in geography.

 

We talk about the major grapes (spoiler alert: Riesling is huge here) and then we discuss various wine styles before giving an overview of the very rich history here, which is meant to give you context for how long Germany has been in the winemaking game and how significant the country has been in wine.

 

The second half of the show is an overview of the major regions in Germany and then we wrap with a quick discussion of the classification system, which hopefully makes much more sense once you hear about the history, climate, and terroir of Germany.

 

I love German wine. I think you could too, if you don’t already. I hope that this show (and the Germany section in the WFNP book, which gives a lot of great detail) can convince you to put it in the rotation more often!

 

Here are the show notes:

  • German wine regions are mainly in the southern and southwestern part of Germany, and are quite northerly, many at around 50-51˚N latitude
  • There are 103,000ha/252,00 acres of vineyards
  • 2/3 of the wine is white, with Germany’s wine reputation pinned to Riesling
  • Most people who make wine in Germany are small producers by New World standards. 25,000 cases/300,000 bottles is considered a huge winery, whereas in the US that’s on the small side of medium!

Photo of Riesling: Canva/Getty

Climate and land

  • Germany is a cool climate country, grapes can only grow and ripen because of the Gulf stream from western Europe and the warmer air the comes in from Eastern Europe
  • Rainfall in Germany’s wine regions occurs DURING the growing season, not during harvest. There is significant disease pressure on the vineyards but irrigation is not an issue and the long, dry fall enables easier harvesting and allows for late harvest wines to flourish

  • The very steep slopes face south, southeast, or southwest. The slopes experience intense solar radiation, helping ripen the grapes


Photo (C)Wine For Normal People: Slate in the Mosel

  • Slate is a preferred soil in Germany because it retains heat and imparts spicy, minerally notes to the wine

Grapes of Germany

  • Riesling is about 23% of production
  • Müller-Thurgau is about 12%
  • Spätburgunder (Pinot Noir) is 11.5%
  • Dornfelder (a red) is about 7.6%
  • Grauburgunder (Pinot Gris) is 6%
  • Weisburgunder (Pinot Blanc) is 5%
  • Silvaner is 4.8%
  • And many other grapes are grown in small percentages all over the country

 

Wine regions: We review all 13 Anbaugebiete...
Map from the Wine For Normal People Book

  • Ahr is the northernmost region. It is small and grows a majority of red wine, mainly spätburgunder

  • Baden is Germany’s southernmost region and accordingly it is the warmest, sunniest region. It is close to France, and grows a lot of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Blanc as a result

  • Franken is known for its flagon – a flat, round-shaped bottle called a bocksbeutel. The regions specializes in earthy, white Silvaner from the limestone shores of the Main River

  • Hessische Bergstrasse is a teeny region with Riesling as the lead. You don’t see these wines outside of Germany

  • Mittelrhein is in the middle of the Rhine (fitting name, huh!?). It is dominated by Riesling, which grows on steep slate slopes

  • Mosel is the most famed region in Germany and makes what many consider to be the best Riesling in the world. The first winegrowing in Germany was in Mosel and it contains the steepest vineyard: at 65˚ grade, Bremmer Calmont has this distinction. Slate soils are dominant and the wines are known for low alcohol levels, high acidity, pure fruit and floral (jasmine, gardenia) notes, along with strong minerality. They are generally off-dry to sweet, to offset the very powerful acidity the terroir imparts to Riesling.

    Photo (C)Wine For Normal People

  • Nahe is located around the river Nahe, the volcanic soils create wines with fuller, richer textures than in other parts of Germany. It is a medium-sized area and not all vineyards or wineries are created equal – there are excellent producers and less good ones too!

  • Pfalz is the second largest area after Rheinhessen. It is consumed heavily in the domestic market and can make rich, fuller stules of dry Riesling because the climate is slightly warmer. Red wines are growing here as well, given the warm conditions and the ability to fully ripen red grapes.

  • Rheingau is the home of Riesling, the creator of Spätlese and Auslese, and highest percentage of Riesling (nearly 80%) and the home of Geisenheim University, one of the best viticulture and oenology schools in the world. The wines range in sweetness and in stule but they are subtler than Mosel wines and tend to develop intricate flavors of petrol, flowers, chamomile tea, and herbs with a few years in the bottle.
    Photo (C) Wine For Normal People

  • Rheinhessen is the largest production area in Germany. It has the dubious distinction of being nicknamed “Liebfraumilch land” from its mass production of the sweet plonk that kind of tanked Germany’s reputation. Rheinhessen has tried to shirk that image and focus on quality wine made from Riesling. The areas of Nackenheim, Nierstein, and Oppenheim can produce excellent quality wine.

  • Wurttemberg specializes in red wines that aren’t grown in other parts of Germany – Trollinger, Lemberger (Blaufränkisch), and Schwarzriesling (Pinot Meunier) are all big here.

  • Saale-Unstrut and Sachsen are in the former East Germnay. Both specialize in dry wine and are at 51˚N latitude. The wines are improving with the help of climate changes and better viticultural practices.

 

Finally we tackle the levels of German Classification:

  • Deutscher Tafelwein: German Table Wine, consumed domestically
  • Deutscher Landwein: German Country wine like Vins d’Pays in France or IGP in Italy, consumed domestically
  • QbA (actually stands for Qualitätswein bestimmter Anbaugebiete): Wines from a defined region. It can be blended from a few regions but generally it’s from one of the Anbaugebiete, so you’ll see Mosel, Pfalz, Rheingau, etc on the bottle
  • Prädikatswein is made from grapes with higher ripeness levels. The levels are:
    • Kabinett: Ripe grapes. Can be dry or sweet
    • Spätelese: Late Harvest wines. Can be dry or sweet
    • Auslese: Select Harvest wines. Can be dry or sweet, very flavorful wines
    • Beerenauslese: Berries of the Select Harvest. Always sweet, generally have experienced the effects of botrytis so the wines are honeyed, waxy, and apricot like. Berries are selected off the vines for the best of the bunch
    • Trockenbeerenauslese: Dried Berries of Select Harvest. Always sweet, very rare. Grapes are very ripe must have been affected by botrytis. The grapes are raisined with very high concentration of sugar. Very expensive and rare wines
    • Eiswein: Grapes are harvested after the first frost. The water in the grapes freezes, the winemakers squeeze out the frozen water and then press the sugar that remains. These wines should not be affected by botrytis

 

We wrap up with other terms that are good to know:

  • Trocken means the wine is dry
  • Halbtrocken wines are off-dry and can seem very sweet
  • Feinherb wines are sweeter or as sweet as halbtrocken wines
  • The VDP: A private marketing organization of about 200 producers around Germany, with its own standards of quality that it expects its members to live up to. Not all great producers are VDP members but it is a safe bet if you know nothing about the wine

    VDP Logo

  • Weingut is a winegrowing and wine-producing estate
  • Gutsabfüllung refers to a grower/producer wine that is estate bottled

 

Much of the data for the podcast was sourced from the Wines of Germany

________________________________________

Thanks for our sponsors this week:

Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal

To become a member of Patreon go to www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

Oct 04, 2021
Ep 393: A Trip to Vinho Verde and a Fresh Outlook on these Wines
53:56

I need to thank the Commission of Vinho Verde for hosting this trip to the region and setting up such wonderful experiences that really gave a 360˚ view of this region.

Photo: ©Wine For Normal People, Vineyards of Aveleda

After talking about a wonderful tasting at Graham’s Port Lodge in Vila Nova di Gaia (across the Douro from Porto) and Quinta do Noval, we discuss some important things about Vinho Verde that augment Episode 291 from my time there. This show is not about the base tier wines – fizzy, cheap and cheerful versions, but about the premium wines that are single grape varieties and made in interesting ways. It’s a look into the diversity that Vinho Verde has to offer, beyond what you may know!

 

We discuss some key points on Vinho Verde:

  • There are nine subregions (see below for more detail). Depending on whether they are in the north or the south, closer to the Atlantic or inland, styles and grapes vary enormously.

 

  • We talk about the thing that wowed me the most: how very different the aromas and flavors of wines of this region are based on the soil they grow on – granite v. schist

 

We discuss the main grapes and their general flavor profiles:

  • Loureiro: A grape with herbal bitterness, that’s floral, and creamy. It’s the top grape of coastal areas.

  • Arinto: The MVP that adds acidity and minerality to blends, this is the base of most Vinho Verde sparkling wine.
  • Trajadura: Although very light in flavor with low acidity, it adds body to blends. I found it tastes like stems – woody but not oaky. It’s great with Loureiro and Alvarinho.

  • Alvarinho: The same grape as Albariño from Rias Baixas on the western coast of Spain. Here the grape seems more tropical, but more acidic because unlike the Spanish, the producers in Vinho Verde do not put the wine through malo-lactic fermentation so the acidity is a bit sharper. The grape is from this region and interesting versions show rosemary and other savory herbal notes with salinity. We discuss the various permutations of the grape – there is experimentation with oak, amphora, eggs (stainless steel and concrete), and extended skin contact and what those versions are like.

  • Avesso: An unusual grape, it represents only 2-3% of production because it is so tricky to grow. When it is good it is like pears, red apple, flowers and the texture is creamy, even though it doesn’t undergo malolactic fermentation. It’s a grape/wine worth seeking out.

  • Azal: A rare grape grown only in some of the subregions, it is like citrus and herbs. It is usually marked for blending but the varietal wines are high in minerality and acidity and not short on fruit flavor.

Photo: ©Wine For Normal People, Arinto Grape in Sousa

And the reds:

  • Vinhão: In its best form smells good – like incense, violets and lilies, but I found it can also smell like goat poop, band-aid, and dirt. It is lower in alcohol and very acidic (some versions are tannic). An inky, light style red with lots of flavor, this is really a local wine, made in a very local style, not for broader consumption. It is used in rosé but often blended with Touriga Nacional, the famed grape of the Douro/Port.

  • Espadeiro: Another hard to grow grape, it is late ripening and tastes of strawberry and cherry. It is used for rosé. As well.

  • Touriga Nacional: A lighter version of Portugal’s star grape from just over the mountains in the Douro.

 

 

Regions and their main grapes:

Lima: Herbal, fresh and grassy Loureiro is their wine. The wines are lovely.

 

 

Ave: Both single variety wines and blends of Loureiro, Arinto, Trajadura, Alvarinho. The Alvarinho + Trajadura blend is common and produces green herb, tangerine notes. Producer: Sao Giao

 

 

Cavado: Similar to Lima, with fresh Loureiro and some Arinto for very acidic sparkling wine, Alvarinho that is peachy, floral and acidic.

 

 

Sousa specializes in floral, talc-like and acidic Loureiro , Arinto for sparkling and for blending to add body to Loureiro, Alvarinho as the more serious wine that has lime and flint notes, and Trajadura, which is light and rounds out blends. Producers: Quinta da Lixa, Quinta das Arcas (Arca Nova)


Photo: ©Wine For Normal People, Quinta das Arcas in Sousa

 Amarante is in the southeast. It makes a lot of different grapes but we focused on the Avesso grape, which is floral, like pears and red apples, bready (from lees contact) and creamy, as is the nature of the grape.  I love this grape, it belongs in the full whites category with Rhone whites, Priorat whites, Verdejo, and Fiano. Producers: A&B Valley Wines, Curvos

 

 

Basto is in the southeast as well, with Douro on the other side of the mountains. Avesso, Arinto, Azal, and Alvarinho are the main grapes. Azal is a rare grape that is acidic with green apple, citrus, herbal, lemon, grass, mineral notes and and acidic yet savory quality. (I mention that only about 10 -15 pure Azals made in the world, Quinta da Razas in one of them). Producer: Quinta da Razas

 

Photo: ©Wine For Normal People, Harvest team at Quinta da Raza in Basto

Monçao e Melgaço  is the home of Alvarinho! There is traditional Alvarinho and then there is so much experimentation with the grape that flaovrs range enormously. The standard bearers show tropical fruit, lime, and floral notes with characteristic strong acidity because the wines don’t go through malolactic fermentation. Granite v schist soils make a difference and any number of styles from sparkling to oak aged, to amphora aged to skin contact wines are being made. Producers: Soalheiro, Adega de Monçao, Quinta da Santiago.

 

I did not visit the subregions of Paiva and Baiao so we don’t discuss them in the show, but they are in the south and specialize in Arinto, Avesso, Azal, with some Loureiro.

 

All in all it was a lovely trip! The producers are open to the public, so it’s an easy and fun few days to plan if you love white wines and want to learn something new!

 

_____________________________

Thanks for our sponsors this week:

Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal

https://assets.libsyn.com/secure/show/45638/wineaccess-logo-round-black.jpg

 

To become a member of Patreon go to www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeoplehttps://assets.libsyn.com/secure/show/45638/width_100_Patreon.jpg

 

 

To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

Sep 28, 2021
Ep 392: The Greats -- Chablis
42:56

One of the greatest Chardonnays (and actually white wines) in the world comes from Chablis in the northern part of Burgundy. In this show we discuss this historic region and why it is capable of making the most distinctive, minerally, terroir-driven white wines made. 

 

Here are the show notes: 

Map: https://www.chablis-wines.com

  • Location: At nearly 48˚N latitude in the northern part of the Bourgogne region in the Yonne department between Paris and Beaune, around the village of Chablis, Serein River runs through it, with vineyards on either bank
  • Area under vine in 2020: 5,771 hectares/14,260 acres
  • 18% of the total volume of wine produced in the Bourgogne region
  • Also contains: St-Bris, which makes mineral driven Sauvignon Blanc

 

Terroir:

  • Terroir expressed more clearly in Chablis than almost anywhere else
  • Valleys branch from the Serein river – left and right, hills are basis of the vineyards
    • Right-bank: softer, bigger wines
    • Left-bank: more acidic, less ripe, more like citrus, green apple
  • Soils: Subsoil is Kimmeridgean limestone with layers of Marl –limestone and clay turned into rock sometimes with fossils of Exogyra virgula, a small, comma-shaped oyster. Different vineyards have different proportions of limestone, marl, clay, loam,
  • Portlandian limestone – younger, harder, no fossils. Sites with this used only forvPetit Chablis
  • 47 Defined Climats (can be mentioned on the label) 40 are Premier Cru, 7 are Grand Cru

Photo: Chablis wines

Climate: Maritime and continental

  • Maritime influence but kind of a modified oceanic climate with continental influences from Eastern Europe
  • Less rainfall and the winters are harsher and summer hotter than maritime

 

Winemaking

  • Fermented in stainless or oak, low temperature, slow fermentation followed by malolactic fermentation
  • Neutral oak (already been used) is used in Chablis Premier Cru and Chablis Grand Cru. Very few producers use new oak barrels since the goal is to preserve terroir

 

 

Classification:

Petit Chablis (19%): 729 hectares (1750 acres)

  • ALL of Chablis wine-growing district (catchall) – AOC 1944, least prestigious – lesser rated vineyards
  • Soil is Portlandian limestone – harder, younger soil on a plateau at the top of slopes, above premier and grand crus
  • Flavors: citrus, flowers, less minerally, light, acidic, saline, to be consumed within 2 years
  • Pairings (goes for Chablis and many Premier Cru too): Oysters, seafood in citrus, salads and acidic vegetables, spicy food, vegetarian pasta

 

Chablis (66%): 3656 hectares (9,034 acres) of vines

  • In the department of Yonne, on the Serein River
  • On Kimmeridgean limestone and marl, very large - quality varies
  • Flavors: Mineral with flint, green apple, lemon, underbrush, citrus, mint, fresh-cut hay
  • Best within 2-3 years

Photo: Chablis wines

Chablis Premier Cru: (14%) - Almost 809 ha/2,000 acres over 40 sites (climat)

  • Both sides of the river Serein, with 24 on the left bank and 16 on the right bank
  • Mostly on slopes of the Serein, southeast or southwest facing, on Kimmeridgian chalk
  • Can just use the phrase "Chablis Premier Cru" if blended across Premier Cru sites
  • Right bank: Softer, fuller wines--Mont de Milieu, Montée de Tonnerre, Fourchaume, Vaucoupin
  • Left bank: Flinty, acidic. Côté de Léchet, Vaillons, Montmains, Vosgros, Vau de Vey
  • Can age 5-10 years

 

Grand Cru Chablis (1%) - 101 hectares/250 acres

  • Contiguous site on the right bank of the Serein, south facing on Kimmeridgian limestone, with fossilized oysters, marl
  • Seven vineyards are Grand Cru, which are each part of just one appellation, Grand Cru Chablis.
  • The difference in these wines: Better sites, lower yields, higher alcohol, higher planting density, matured until at least March 15 of the year following harvest
  • Grand Crus: north to south
    • Bougros: Fresh and mineral
    • Les Preuses:: elegant, minerally with a long finish
    • Vaudésir: Stronger, richer wine – more body
    • Grenouilles: Fruity with strong acidity, a fuller body
    • Valmur: VERY fruity, balanced with strong minerality
    • Les Clos: The most famous site: elegance, minerality, fruit, acidity
    • Blanchot: Soft and more like white flowers
  • La Moutonne is an unofficial 8th Grand Cru
  • Best with 10-15 years of age
  • Pairings: Lobster, mushrooms, shrimp, cream sauces

We love this wine. If you haven't had it, definitely get one and discover what makes it a "great!" 

Photo: Chablis wines

_____________________________________________________

Thanks for our sponsors this week:

Wine Access: Access to the best wines for the best prices! For 15% off your next order, go to www.wineaccess.com/normal

https://assets.libsyn.com/secure/show/45638/wineaccess-logo-round-black.jpg

 

To become a member of Patreon go to www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeoplehttps://assets.libsyn.com/secure/show/45638/width_100_Patreon.jpg

 

 

 

To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

Sep 21, 2021
Ep 391: Édouard Miailhe - Dynamic leader of the Margaux AOC & 5th Generation Owner of Château Siran
54:57


Château Siran is an historic and innovative estate on the Left Bank of Bordeaux, in the commune of Margaux. Once owned by the painter Toulouse-Lautrec’s great-grandmother, in the mid-1800s Siran was purchased by ancestor of Édouard Miailhe’s family and today he is the 6th generation to run Siran.

 

Miailhe, like many of the most interesting people in the wine industry, had an entire career doing something other than wine (in his case finance and real estate in the Philippines) until his mother and father retired about 15 years ago and he decided to move back to France to run the Château. He likes to stay busy (and take on challenges) because in addition to being the leader of Château Siran in 2018, he took the difficult job of running the winegrowers association of Margaux, a post that was held by his predecessor for decades!

Photo: Team at Château Siran, Marjolaine Defrance, oenologist on the left, Édourard Miailhe center, Jean-Luc Chevalier, vineyard manager, right.

In this show Édouard does double duty – telling us first about Margaux and then about the spectacular, very classic wines of Château Siran, which are an insane value and should be sitting in your cellar to age right now!

  • We discuss the Margaux AOC: the location, the climate, the (slight) elevation, the soil and the typical style of Margaux, plus how it differs from its close neighbors like Pauillac, St-Julien, Listrac, Moulis, and parts of the Haut-Médoc

  • Édouard shares a bit of the political landscape of the Margaux appellation, its long history (he is amazingly and refreshingly honest about this – Margaux hasn’t always been fancy, glitzy and glamorous!) and talks about how Bordeaux was a very different place 35 years ago.

  • We talk about the grapes in Margaux and what each brings to the blends in the appellation (with special attention given to Petit Verdot).


Then we discuss Château Siran

  • We learn the history of the château and how the property wound up in the Miailhe family’s hands in 1859.

  • Édouard tells us about the fine gravels and subsoils of the region, the proximity of Siran to the river and its unique place in the Labade commune.

 

  • The blend and the role of Petit Verdot is featured -- they use up to up to 11% of the grape in some years. We also discuss Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.

  • We discuss the importance of sustainability – Édouard’s father never sprayed chemicals in the vineyard so it has been free of pesticides for more than 40 years. His vines are old, healthy and full of character.

  • We talk about the Grand Vin – Château Siran – the blending, vinification, and aging. Then we discuss the other wines:


  • We really get into the limitations of classifications and why Siran originally opted out of the 1855 Classification and why they recently decided to opt out of the Cru Bourgeois classification.


  • We close talking about how Château Siran is one of the few estates in the Médoc that people can visit. Let’s visit!!!

Photo credit: Château Siran

Other notes...

  • Chateaux mentioned: Château Giscours, Château Dauzac, Château Prieure-Lichine, Château Pichon-Lalande, Château Palmer, Château Margaux

  • Édouard also mentions Professor Denis Dubourdieu as wine consultant from St.-Émilion

  • Here’s a link to the video of Marjolaine Defrance, the enologist at Chateau Siran

 

_____________________________________________________

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Sep 13, 2021
Ep 390: The Grape Miniseries -- Petit Verdot
41:24

Petit Verdot is often the secret weapon in a blend -- providing unique aromas and flavors plus acidity and tannin. In this show, we discuss this essential grape and the vital role it plays in wines around the world.

What is Petit Verdot?

  • The name means “little green one”, since it's hard to ripen, the berries remain green when other grapes are ready to harvest
  • The grape is used in Bordeaux blends but sometimes made as a varietal wine
  • Petit Verdot ripens later than other varieties and is used for tannin, color and flavor, gives structure to mid palate

Photo: Virginia Wine

Origins: Around in Bordeaux before Cabernet Sauvignon

  • Could have been brought to Bordeaux by Romans
  • Probably from Southwest France around the Pyrénées but gained recognition in the Médoc and Graves (on the Left Bank of Bordeaux)
  • Plantings shrunk after phylloxera and the big 1956 frost in Bordeaux
  • Petit Verdot was uprooted to be replaced in Bordeaux with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Now – more being planted, can withstand heat and drought

 

The grape:

  • Small, thick-skinned berries that look almost black because of high anthocyanins -- lots of color and tannin!
  • Early budding, late ripening -sometimes too late for the Bordeaux climate but that is changing (more similar to Cabernet Sauvignon than Merlot in the vineyards

 

In the vineyard:

  • Best on warm, well-drained, gravel-based soils 
  • Canopy management to maximize sun exposure is important
  • If the weather does not cooperate in the spring during flowering, the fruit will not ripen well 
  • Sensitive to water stress


Winemaking:

  • Even in small amounts (0.5%!), Petit Verdot can make a big difference
  • Most winemakers will age these wines in oak, fostering undercurrents of vanilla

 

Aromas/flavors:

  • Pencil shavings, violet, black fruit, spice, tannins, acidity
  • Very acidic if not fully ripe but can be elegant and refreshing if it’s ripe
  • Cool climate: Dried herbs (sage, thyme), blueberry, blackberry with violet, leathery, pencil shavings
  • Warm climate: Jammy, spicy, dark fruit, full-bodied, decent acidity, high tannin

 

Old World

France

  • Almost all Petit Verdot in France is in the Médoc of Bordeaux
  • Big proportions are in: Chateau Margaux, Chateau Palmer, Chateau Pichon Lalande (Pauillac), Chateau Lagrange in St. Julien, Chateau La Lagune, Chateau Siran in Margaux

Italy

  • Primarily in Tuscany in the Maremma Toscana DOC (we mention the PV by Podere San Cristoforo), and in Sicily in the Menfi and Sicilia DOCs. Some in Lazio and Puglia


Other Old World Places:

  • Spain: Petit Verdot grow in warmer areas like Castilla y Leon, Jumilla, La Mancha, Alicante, Méntrida DO
  • Portugal: Success in Alentejo
  • Found in Turkey, Israel

 

New World

United States

  • Virginia: Often blended with Merlot of Cab Franc
    • Needs free-draining soils (gravel is best) and high heat
    • We get a firsthand account of PV from Elizabeth Smith of Afton Mountain, who makes outstanding wines.
  • California: Napa, Sonoma, Paso Robles, Lodi, Central Valley used in Meritage/blends often, with a few boutique standalones
  • Washington State: PV is grown and made in Columbia Valley, Walla Walla, Yakima, Red Mountain
  • Other Places: Planted in Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, Texas, Michigan, PA, Maryland, New York, and more

 

Canada:

  • Okanagan Valley of BC, Niagara Peninsula in Canada

 

Australia

  • Used to make big bodied, lots of floral and dark fruit flavor single varietal wines. The grape has good acidity and tannin that will age for several years
  • Ripens very late, often weeks or a month later than Shiraz
  • Regions: 
    • More bulk wine: Riverland, Murray Valley, Riverina, region is home to Australia’s largest plantings of Petit Verdot (which maintains acidity, even in heat)
    • Better areas: McLaren Vale, Langhorne Creek, Barossa, Clare Valley, Coonawarra, and the Limestone Coast.

 

 

Argentina

  • Every region from Patagonia to Calcahquí but mostly in Mendoza -70% or more is there. Verdot has good results in Bordeaux style blends

Other South America: Peru, Chile, Uruguay – in blends and a varietal wine

 

South Africa:

  • Mainly in Bordeaux blends and as a varietal too

 

Food Pairings with PV:

  • Grilled or roasted red meat or hearty vegetables
  • Spicy pork and spicy foods in general – Latin American spices

____________________________________________________________

Thanks for our sponsors this week:

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Sep 06, 2021
Ep 389: Chateau Doyac and the Diversity of Terroir in the Haut-Medoc of Bordeaux
38:13

Photo: Château Doyac


In our continued exploration of the Médoc (which will culminate in two free, live, online classes that I hope you'll join or watch on YouTube afterwards), on the Left Bank of Bordeaux, I spoke with Astrid de Pourtalès, co-owner of Château Doyac. This property is a Cru Bourgeois Supérieur located in the northernmost part of the Haut-Médoc appellation that is unlike what you think of when you consider this region. This show presents a high level overview of a different part of the Médoc (versus Château Meyney, where Anne Le Naour gives a very detailed view of St-Estèphe) and a nice view of what a family owned château is like in the region.

 

Astrid de Pourtalès owns the château with her husband Max and her daughter Clémance. She discusses her experiences in being fairly new to Bordeaux after a career in the New York theater scene (they bought Château Doyac in 1998) and the bold move that Max made to transition Doyac to an ECOCERT certified organic vineyard in 2018 and then a Demeter certified biodynamic vineyard in 2019 (this is no small feat in Bordeaux, which has an erratic climate, we don’t go into extensive detail but it is an interesting contrast to the show with Sofía Araya of Veramonte in Chile who discusses biodynamics in that easier to farm area).

Photo: Château Doyac

Astrid tells us how they came to buy the château, the measures they took to improve it (including hiring famed consultant Eric Boissenot, who consults for the majority of the Grands Crus Classé in the Médoc), and the role her daughter, Clémance, an agronomist, will take in the future to run things for this small, high quality property that makes about 100,000 bottles/8,300 cases.

 

We discuss a number of high-level topics:

  • What it is like in the very northern part of the Haut-Médoc where the effects of the Atlantic and Gironde are stronger and the soil has a big proportion of limestone (Doyac's Sauvignon Blanc is on my list to try – apparently it is reminiscent of Chablis - not a typo she says it's like a minerally Chardonnay!).

Map: Vacances-Location.net

  • We talk about the reasons Max pursued the organic and biodynamic paths for Château Doyac and the results: better, easier to work soils, and much improved vines and wines that demonstrate elegance, acidity, and pure fruit character (right now the mix is Merlot with Cabernet Sauvignon but in the future about 20% will be Cabernet Franc, with 70% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. Cabernet Franc is their most recent planting -- it does well on the limestone clay soils here).

 

  • Astrid discusses their second wine, Espirit de Doyac and their newest wines in Le Pelican line.

                               

 

Photo from Les Grappes: Astrid and Max de Pourtalès
_____________________________________________________

Astrid mentions a few chateaux in the conversation. Here are links that will be helpful if you missed anything in the conversation:

  • Chateau de Malleret, Haut-Medoc, France – the chateau Max’s father in law owned (Holy COW this is a huge château and gorgeous!)

 

 

 

____________________________________________________________

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Aug 31, 2021
Ep 388: The Greats - Vino Nobile di Montepulciano
44:06

Photo: Consorzio del Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

The Nobile Wine of Montepulciano is a wine based on a clone of Sangiovese and from a small hillside town in Tuscany called Montepulciano. It is, indeed, one of the great wines of the world. Although often overshadowed by its neighbors – Brunello di Montalcino and Chianti Classico – and confused with a grapey, high yielding producer in Abruzzo (the Montepulciano grape), this wine has class, style, and a legacy of greatness to back it up.

 

After ups and downs over nearly 2000 years of winemaking, Vino Nobile is experiencing a quiet revival and it's one of my favorite wines in Italy. Moderate in body with an interplay of fruit, herb, and brooding tea and forest-y aromas and flavors, this is a wine that those in the know (you!) will immediately fall in love with. With its latest comeback, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is back and better than ever. And who doesn’t love a comeback story?

Photo: Getty Images

Here are the show notes:

  • We address the elephant in the room: Montepulciano IS not the grape, this wine is from the PLACE called Montepulciano!!!
    • We get you squared away on the difference between these two wines – Montepulciano is a grape that makes an US$8-$10 wine. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is the noble wine made from Sangiovese in the Tuscan town of Montepulciano. It is based on a clone Sangiovese – Prugnolo Gentile




  • History
    • The wine has been noted since 55 AD.
    • Montepulciano has been praised by merchants, authors, Popes, and politicians like Thomas Jefferson
    • Phylloxera, mildews, World Wars, the Depression, and then an emphasis on quantity versus quality put the wines of Montepulciano in a real funk. It got lumped in with Chianti, lost its status, and that was a real setback for the region

  • In 2017, six like-minded Montepulciano winemakers created a small association called Alliance Vinum to show the purest expression of single-vineyard Sangiovese/Prugnolo Gentile. The group calls these wines Nobile instead of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano to avoid confusion with the southern Italian grape. Here are the wines of this group:
    1. Avignonesi: Nobile Poggetto di Sopra
    2. Boscarelli: Costa Grande
    3. Cantine Dei: Madonna della Querce
    4. La Braccesca, an estate of the Antinori family: Podere Maggiarino
    5. Poliziano: Le Caggiole after a 20-year pause,
    6. Salcheto: Salco Vecchie Viti

Photo: Getty Images

Other wines we mention…

  • Rosso di Montepulciano 
  • Vin Santo 

 

We review Pairing Suggestions with Vino Nobile di Montepulciano:

  • Antipasti --Grilled Vegetables, fresh cheeses, cured meats like prosciutto, salami
  • Pasta with tomato, truffle, Bolognese, mushrooms sauces
  • Risottos with mushrooms
  • Pizza, lasagna, eggplant
  • Braised and roasted game, red meats. Stews.
  • Portabella mushrooms
  • Ribollita
  • Hard cheeses

Photo: Getty Images

______________________________________________

Thanks for our sponsors this week:

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To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

Aug 24, 2021
Ep 387: Veramonte's Sofia Araya -- Organic, terroir-driven wine in Chile
01:00:22

Sofía Araya  - head winemaker of Veramonte, Ritual, Primus, and Neyen

Sofía Araya was born and raised in Chile and she has made wine in nearly every high quality valley of the country since she graduated from la Universidad de Chile. After years of working on conventional farms for some big names, she moved to Veramonte. She helped transition the over 500 ha/1,235 acres to 100% ECOCERT certified organic vineyards. Veramonte represents 15% of all organic vineyards in Chile.

 

Sofía is now the head winemaker and oversees the organic Veramonte and Ritual and the organic and biodynamic properties of Neyen and Primus.  All are under the umbrella of Sherry-based Gonzalez Byass.

 

Although this may seem like a mega-brand because of its excellent distribution, it actually turns out that Veramonte and its sister brands – Ritual, Primus, and Neyen – make just 200,000 cases of wine a year (2.4 million bottles) combined. That’s the size of a medium brand at a big hulking winery!

 

Two things that are important:

1. Sofía and I jump right in on the geography. It may be helpful to follow along with the WFNP map or to listen to this podcast we did on Chile before you listen. (You can listen to this on the Casablanca Valley, this on Maipo, and this on Rapel if you really want extra credit!)

2. A summary of the brands to keep it all straight:

    • Veramonte: Cool climate Casablanca and Colchagua wines for everyday consumption. Pop and pour!
    • Ritual: Also from Casablanca, and only Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot. These are more food wines, with stronger tannin, and fuller body. They are a bit more terroir driven.
    • Primus: The same idea as Ritual but these wines are bolder reds. There is a red blend and a Carménère from Apalta in Colchagua, and a Cabernet Sauvignon from Maipo.
    • Neyen: The signature, high-end blend, sourced from their top site in Apalta.

 

Here are the points we cover:

  • Sofia tells us about her life and career. She talks about working for Casa Lapostolle and Luis Felipe Edwards in the Colchagua Valley, and Arestí in Curicó.

 

  • We get the history of Viñedos Veramonte and how Sofía was a major part of its transition to organics. We discuss some of the exciting things about the transition and some of the more difficult ones (including a change in mindset.

    **Sofía mentions Flowers and Quintessa as being brands owned by Augustin Hunneus. Flowers is a Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir brand, Quintessa is a Napa-based mainly Cabernet-based brand. Both are biodynamic and both are very pricey).

 

  • We discuss the Casablanca Valley at length – its surprisingly cool climate, how it developed through the 1990s and 2000, and the very pure fruit flavors that she is able to achieve in the wines made here: Ritual and Veramonte. We discuss the reds of the region, the different flavor profiles they can achieve in this area, and why they are successful in Casablanca.

  • Sofía discusses Colchagua and why the Carmenére is so good from this area. We discuss the sub areas of Apalta and Marchigue (pronounced mar-Chee-way) from which Primus and Neyen are sourced. We discuss what makes Neyen, their flagship wine, so special.

 

  • Since Primus Cabernet Sauvignon is sourced from the Maipo Valley, we also discuss this beautiful, famed area. We mention the Maipo Alto, Maipo Medio, and Maipo Bajo as being diverse

 

  • Sofía schools us on why Chilean wine is an incredible value for the money and why price doesn’t always mean quality, especially where Chile is concerned.

 

____________________________________________________________

Thanks for our sponsors this week:

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To become a member of Patreon go to www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

 

To register for an AWESOME, LIVE WFNP class with Elizabeth go to: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

Aug 17, 2021
Ep 386: Natalie MacLean -- Author, Wine Reviewer & Podcaster
01:01:37

Natalie MacLean is an accredited sommelier who operates one of the largest wine sites on the web at www.nataliemaclean.com.

Natalie's first book Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass and her second book Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World's Best Bargain Wines were each selected as an Amazon “Best Book of the Year.” She is the wine expert on CTV's The Social, Canada's largest daytime television show, CTV News, and Global Television's Morning Show.

She was named the World's Best Drinks Writer at the World Food Media Awards, and has won four James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards. Natalie is an author, online wine course instructor, and wine reviewer. She is a member of the National Capital Sommelier Guild, the Wine Writers Circle, and several French wine societies with complicated and impressive names.

Natalie holds an MBA and is a fellow podcast host, with her excellent podcast “Unreserved Wine Talk” (on which I have also been a guest - Ep 50).

Being two podcasters, we like to talk!! This is more of a conversation than an interview and we had a great time chatting about a variety of subjects. Here are the show notes:

  • Natalie talks about her journey into the wine world from a live in tech and an MBA to becoming a wine reviewer and writer. She and I discuss the professional challenges that she faced in 2012 and how she didn’t give up and used her positivity and strength to continue being a powerful voice in wine.

  • We chat about the Canadian wine industry

  • Then we get to the main event – bantering about the current trends in the wine industry and what we think about them. Here are the main topics we take on:

    • The natural wine movement/clean wine/raw wine
    • Celebrity wine
    • Alcohol free or low alcohol wine
    • Wine critics and “influencers”
    • Climate change and what it will do to wine
    • Wine v. white claw or spirits, which follows nicely into a conversation about canned and boxed wines and alternative packaging, including the environmental impact of shipping in the wine industry and our hopes for change
    • Orange wines, blue wines

A very fun conversation about wine and life. Please check out Natalie’s books:  Red, White and Drunk All Over: A Wine-Soaked Journey from Grape to Glass and her second book Unquenchable: A Tipsy Quest for the World's Best Bargain Wines 

      

 

_____________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
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Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal for a special deal on your order!

I’m so excited to work with Wine Access and you should definitely try them out. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • They have REAL brands, REAL people picking the wines, and the deals and service are outstanding. Try their wine club out -- it's one of the best ways to get quality wines you may never have tried! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

Aug 09, 2021
Ep 385: Anne Le Naour of Chateau Meyney - Redefining Saint-Estèphe of Bordeaux
01:05:06

Anne Le Naour is the technical and managing director for Château Meyney of St-Estèphe in the Médoc of Bordeaux. She also manages the other properties of CA Grands Crus. The company is owned by the top bank that supports wine in France, Crédit Agricole Group (sometimes referred to as "la banque verte" due to its historical connections with farming). Its current portfolio includes Chateaux Meyney, 5th growth Grand Puy Ducasse in Pauillac, and Santenay in Burgundy.

 

Le Naour is a trained oenologist with global experience and since she began at Meyney in 2016, she has transformed the Château, restructuring vineyards, improving viticulture, and moving towards organics. She has introduced better winemaking – less extraction, less obvious oak, and more care in handling vine and wine. Her deep knowledge of wine and winemaking, plus her unwavering dedication to quality has meant that the wines of Meyney are attracting more attention than ever.

 

These are exquisite wines, underpriced for what they are (Meyney is right next to second growth, Montrose, incidentally, even though it was unfairly omitted from the 1855 classification) and Anne joins to tell us about her outstanding career, the underappreciated area of St-Estèphe on the Left Bank, and the beautiful wines of the historic Château Meyney. Here's my quick tasting video for a review.

 

Here are the notes from our conversation:

  • We open with a discussion of Meyney and its heritage first an ecclesiastical property, then as a woman-owned property (that was, at that time, conspicuously left out of the 1855 classification), to the more recent family ownership and then to Credit Agricolé, the current owner.


Photo: Château Meyney

  • Anne gives an overview of her outstanding career, where she worked at chateaux and domaine in Champagne (Mumm), Burgundy, Loire, Bordeaux (at Château Beychevelle) --some of the biggest names in French wine. She discusses her time in the Yarra Valley of Australia (Yering Station), and the US working with David Abreu. We discuss how her curiosity and a bit of innocence about how hard it would be to break into the industry helped her excel, and how going to Australia gave her an education of a lifetime.

  • We discuss what it means to be of Generation X and in a management role in wine, and how our generation differs from others.

 

We move on to St-Estèphe, and why it is not as esteemed as it should be…

  • Anne posits that St. Estèphe’s distance from Bordeaux city – it takes 1.5 hours to travel St-Estèphe vs. 40 mintues to Margaux, may make it less desirable.

  • We discuss the terroir – the traditional ability for wines to get riper in Margaux and St-Julien (those wines were known for elegance) vs St-Estèphe (called rustic). With better decisions in the vineyard and with winemaking the wines of St-Estèphe are often full and elegant – the best of all world due to the presence of gravel on the top soils to help ripening and clay beneath to keep soils wet during periods of drought.

Vins de BordeauxMap: Bordeaux.com, Vins de Bordeaux

The we discuss the specifics of what Anne has done to improve the vineyards and wines of Meyney. This is a great education session on what actually matters in the vineyard and why. We discuss some specific improvements that have been made at Meyney to boost wine quality:

  • Switching Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon sites to improve quality of the wine dramatically
  • Using better grape material – quality over quantity is now the priority
  • Improving canopy management and increasing vine density
  • Watching extractions and over-use of oak
  • Creating a unique style for the second wine, Prieur de Meyney
  • Organic and sustainable practices to improve soil health


Photo: Wine.com

We wrap up with a discussion of how we need to keep terroir in mind, but be flexible about our ideas of the appellations.

Here is a link to the video with the soil and plantings map, that is so very well done: Meyney Video

This was an excellent conversation from one of the best people working in wine today! I learned more than I can express, and I think you will too. Take a listen!

_____________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal for a special deal on your order!

I’m so excited to work with Wine Access and you should definitely try them out. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • They have REAL brands, REAL people picking the wines, and the deals and service are outstanding. Try their wine club out -- it's one of the best ways to get quality wines you may never have tried! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

Aug 03, 2021
Ep 384: Txakolina --The Wine of Basque Country
38:50

The Basque Country in northeastern Spain lies on the Bay of Biscay and abuts the Pyrenees Mountains, a mere 18 mi/30 km from the French border. Until about a decade ago, this area was relatively unknown as a wine region. But with the rise of Basque cuisine, an increased interest from wine buyers in native varietals, and a desire for lower alcohol, thirst-quenching wines, Txakolina (chock-o-LEEN-ah), a white, high acid, spritzy wine started to get attention. The phenom started in places all over the United States (which boasts a Basque population of more than 50,000 people), then the UK and Japan, now small quantities of wine find their way to  many other countries around the world.


Map of Basque Country: Vineyards.com

In this show, we discuss this historic region, with its own language, culture, and wine traditions. We talk about how the modern wine industry was renewed, and what you can expect from these delicious, refreshing (mainly white) wines. If you haven’t had these wines or heard of them, this should will give you a good foundation to learn about them and appreciate all that it took for them to make it to your table!

 

Here the show notes:

  • We give an overview of the Basque region (Euskadi), and the language of Euskera, one of the oldest spoken languages with no link to any other known language
    • We discuss the quirky naming convention of the wine of this area, the original name of called txakolin and the meaning of txakolina  "the txakolin" – a term was used from middle of the 18th century onwards and how Txakoli was a misspelling used after 1985. (Source: Wikipedia, originally from the Academy of Basque Language)
    • The wine is called chacolí in Spanish

  • We spend time on the history of Basque country, with a focus on the independent spirit of the Basque people. We discuss the political discord in the region, especially the difficulties with the Basque Separatist Movement. We tie in wine—discussing the importance of the rise of Michelin-starred chefs in the Basque region, the interest of importers like Jorge Ordoñez who imported cases of Txomin Etxaniz to the US in the early 1990s, and how sommeliers and others had growing interest in native grapes

Photo: Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao in Basque Country

  • Location: We review where Basque Country is…
    • Northern Basque Country: The French part in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department of France
    • Southern Basque Country/El País Vasco of Spain, Basque Autonomous Community: including Álava, Biscay, and Gipuzkoa
    • Other areas that make Chacolí (I’m spelling it this way because they are Spanish areas) are Cantabria and Burgos

 

  • Land and climate: We mention features like the Cantabrian Mountains, vineyards near the coast surrounding Bilbao, and vineyards toward the Ebro Valley and Rioja. Vineyards are terraced and on hillsides, some quite steep. We talk about the wet Atlantic climate of the reigon and its effect on the grapes.

Photo: Bodega Doniene Gorrondona

 

  • Vineyard and winemaking. We discuss the parras – the high pergolas that help keep the airflow through the canopy. We talk about the mainly modern winemaking facilities and methods, but how some of the producers are working with longer lees aging, aging in wood and concrete, and blending. We explore the technique of making the wine under a blanket of nitrogen to ensure spritz in your glass and how it is pour from shoulder height to enhance the fizz in the glass.

 

Txakolina Vineyard Photo: Josu Goñi Etxabe, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Finally, we discuss the Denominaciones de Origen:

Getariako Txakolina or Txakoli de Getaria, (Chacolí de Guetaria -Spanish), is the most important, oldest, and most prolific DO, yet the smallest geographically. The wines are softer and riper, with less bitterness and great acidity. They nearly always have spritz.

 

Bizkaiko Txakolina or Txakoli de Bizkaia  - (Spanish is Chacolí de Vizcaya), got its DO in 1994. It is mostly small tracts of land around Bilbao, overlooking the Bay of Biscay. These wines are more herbaceous than other regions and can be less fizzy, fuller, rounder and more textured.

 

Arabako Txakolina or Txakoli de Álava, achieved DO status in 2001, making it the youngest DO. This area is inland, south of Bilbao. In the south of this province, you'll find Rioja Alavesa. The north makes acidic, dry, fruity, low alcohol wines. These wines are often blended -- Hondarrabi Zuri, Gross Manseng, Petit Manseng and Petit Corbu are commonly mixed together.

 

Producers we mention:

Getariako:

  • Txomin Etxaniz: Largest winery in the Getaria region, makes 18% of the region’s output
  • Ameztoi
  • Gaintza

 

Bizkaiko

  • Doniene Gorrondona
  • Bodegas Itsasmendi

Photo: Bodegas Itsasmendi

Arabako

  • Bat Gara

*Outro Snippet from the Song "Mr. Dobalina" is by Del the Funky Homo Sapien, (c)1991 from the "I Wish My Brother George Was Here", Elektra Records. 

_____________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal for a special deal on your order!

I’m so excited to work with Wine Access and you should definitely try them out. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • They have REAL brands, REAL people picking the wines, and the deals and service are outstanding. Try their wine club out -- it's one of the best ways to get quality wines you may never have tried! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

Jul 28, 2021
Ep 383: Domaine Wachau of Austria - One of Europe's Best Co-Ops with Roman Horvath, MW
57:23

In this show I speak with Roman Horvath, a Master of Wine, is the Winery Director of Domaine Wachau, which is among the leading wine producers in Austria. The Domaine  is actually a cooperative, meaning it is run by and owned by individual growers, with Roman bringing them all together under his leadership. But whereas most co-ops in Europe produce seas of mediocre to plain BAD wines, Domaine Wachau has been cited as one of the best co-ops in the world and is known for making wines of origin and pure flavor.

Photo: Domaine Wachau

The Domaine has a full range of Grüner Veltliner and Riesling that reflect their unique terroir – from small vineyard plots on steep terraces along the Danube to regional wines. Roman coordinates the vintner families, who work to capture the terroir of the historic wine region of Wachau. These wines are splendid and show how the co-op system can work well when under the right management.

 

Here are the show notes:

  • Roman tells us about his path through the MW and to becoming the managing director of Domaine Wachau. He gives us some great insight into the MW program (spoiler – it’s probably not what you think!)

Photo of Roman Horvath, MW: Domaine Wachau

  • We discuss the structure of Domaine Wachau and what makes it such a successful cooperative (along with Produttori del Barbaresco in Piedmont and La Chablisienne in Chablis). We talk about the success of this co-op versus the thousands of others in Europe and the formula for great wine.

 

  • We discuss Wachau, the small (3321 acres/1,344 hectares), narrow valley carved out by the Danube through marble and mineral rich, amphibolite (metamorphic rock), and quartz-based gneiss (said "nice) rock. We talk about the effect of the Danube, climate patterns, and the individual 155 Rieden (single vineyards like the famed Kellerberg, Achleiten and Singerriedel), as well as the vital importance of the stone terraces (terrasen) to mountainside viticulture in Wachau.

Photo: Domaine Wachau

  • Roman tells us about the style we can expect from the Grüner Veltliner and the Riesling that grow in Wachau, and factors that make a difference in style – from terroir to aging. We talk about why screw cap is fantastic for young wine but why cork is a better bet for aging wines.

 

  • We discuss the two classification systems that Wachau is part of – the national DAC system, which includes a Burgundy-like place-based classification system (Gebeitsweine for Regional Wine, Ortswein for Village wine, Riedenwein for single vineyard wines) and Wachau’s own classification by ripeness under the Vinea Wachau, which includes wines labeled Steinfeder, Federspiel, and Smargd (in order of lightest to heaviest)

Map: Wine for Normal People book

  • We wrap with a conversation about climate change and the future for Wachau. Roman mentions some excellent other Austrian regions: Burgenland for reds, and Kremstal, Kamptal, Wagram, Traisental for whites.

This conversation gave me a new appreciation for Wachau and for successful co-ops. Domaine Wachau is great and I know I will appreciate Grüner Veltliner and Riesling from the majestic area more than I ever have before!

_____________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Jul 19, 2021
Ep 382: Don Kavanagh on Wine's Next Wave and The End of the Cult of the Somm
52:07

Don Kavanagh who joined for "Episode 330: Journalistic Integrity in Wine with Don Kavanagh of Wine-Searcher"  comes back to talk about wine's next wave and Wine-Searcher's controversial article: "Farewell to the 'Cult of the Somm.'"

Don Kavanagh, Editor of Wine-Searcher

To refresh your memory from Ep 330, Don is the editor of Wine-Searcher's journalistic arm. He has spent the past 25 years either working in the wine trade or writing about it, in his native Ireland, the UK, and New Zealand. He has a dedication to telling things as they are -- as a true observer of situations rather than a judge, jury, or partisan -- and publishes articles on topics that need to be tackled in the wine industry but that others won't touch because of wine politics. 

 

In this show Don and I discuss how the wine world is starting to look in a post-pandemic world where a shift towards stay-at-home drinking and more casual dining will likely be lasting trends. We address the (sort of earth-shattering, in our little world) quote from the head of Penfolds, Peter Gago, which was the highlight of the article in Wine-Searcher:

"The pandemic has probably diminished the 'cult of the sommelier'. Recent events may have also subdued their profile/visibility in the US market. Perhaps we're moving towards a new paradigm: less aspirationally rock star - more humility?"


Photo: Peter Gago, Chief Winemaker, Penfolds.com

Although he said what most of us in the industry were thinking, his articulation of this sentiment (with a hint of hopefulness) really gives permission to others to stop putting sommeliers on a pedestal. With his proclamation, he effectively has made it ok for restaurants and producers to stop treating these people as influencer gods (as Don and I discuss, beyond their bubbles and their restaurants they don’t actually sell wine so this makes sense!). He has sounded the death knell for sommelier culture. 

 

James Lawrence, the author of the piece in Wine-Searcher, contacted other heavy hitters in the industry, including respected importer Thierry Thiese in the US, who concurred that the ego and adulation of sommeliers needed to go away. Others in the restaurant world stated that the role of the sommelier needed to change to something more operational and more guest-focused.

 

I highly recommend reading the article to see the blunt nature of the comments made and how they represent a true shift in the wine world away from truly, ‘the cult of the somm’ as Peter Gago christened it.


Photo credit: Pixabay

As for our conversation, Don and I discuss the role of critics and sommeliers, the future of the wine industry, non-alcoholic beverage trends, and what we both hope will be a better, more wine-drinker friendly world with the wine industry requiring a total reset of the sommelier role, attitude, and ego.

 

Some heavy topics but Don is devoid of pretense and so very clear-eyed and articulate about the industry, what is happening, and needs to happen. Don is infinitely entertaining and this podcast is bound to delight (unless you're a snobby sommelier and then you'll really hate us).

 Sign up for the Wine-Searcher newsletter to keep up with Don

 

_______________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

To sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

And get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine club, which is the REAL DEAL!  

Jul 12, 2021
Ep 381: Wines for a Barbecue
34:23

Barbecues are fun, but having wine at them…not so much! The food at barbecues ranges but the theme is that even though they generally occur in the dead of summer, the food is heavy and served warm so the wines we needed for pairing aren’t necessarily the same ones we’d have for sipping on the porch. In this show, we go over the main foods we eat at BBQs and break down some of their constituent components so we can find the best wines for them. 

Photo: Unsplash

It turns out that, as we talked through it all, there are some wines you just can’t do without at a barbecue – we tell you the details of great pairing and hopefully convince you that with just a few key wines, you can have bottles that pair as well with food off the grill and the sides, as a cold, frosty beer.

 

Condiments we discuss:

  • Ketchup (and its ingredients)
  • Mustard (and its ingredients)
  • Mayo

Photo: Pexels

Sample foods we use to explain pairing and offer some ideas with explanations:

  • Hot dogs and popular toppings like sauerkraut, slaw, ketchup, and mustard
  • Burgers with popular toppings
  • Sausage
  • Pork and various preparations
  • Steak
  • Chicken
  • Veggies
  • Seafood and fish
  • Corn
  • Watermelon
  • Pasta salad
  • Cole Slaw


Photos: Unsplash

Ribs and rubs: ketchup based sauces, sugar and fruit based sauces, smoky flavors, tandoori or hot spice notes, garlic and lemon marinades

 

MVPs (most valuable players – meaning best wines):

  • Rosé: heavier styles from Tavel, Bandol (both in France) or those with higher alcohol levels, therefore a heavier body

Photos: Pixabay

  • Whites: Grüner Veltliner, fruity Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling (off dry and dry), Chenin Blanc (off dry and dry), Albariño, Verdejo, Fiano, Etna Bianco

 

  • Reds: Gamay, fruity Pinot Noir (California, New Zealand, Chile), Grenache/Syrah/ Mourvèdre blends (GSM) – either Côtes-du-Rhône or from warmer places in Australia or the US, Shiraz from Australia or earthier Syrah in some cases, Zinfandel, Cabernet Franc, right bank Bordeaux

 

  • Sparkling – have to have it, even if it’s cheap (Cava. Prosecco)

Don't forget to chill your whites, rosés, and especially your REDS!! Happy grilling!

_____________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

Jul 04, 2021
Ep 380: Wine Moves North to Brittany & Beyond with Barnaby Eales
35:58

As the climate has changed, winegrowers have initiated the hunt for places where natural acidity and lightness can shine in the glass. Warmer years mean we can't always rely on our standbys -- Sancerre, Chablis, Chinon, and other wines from northern climes -- to have a balance of lighter alcohol and excellent acidity. People are seeking answers in many places -- some add artificial acidity or use technology for balance, some seek higher altitudes, and some higher latitudes. In this show we deal with the latter. 

 

Map: Mikael Bodlore-Penlaez, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
(notice the Pays Nantais, part of Loire Wine Region, in the lower right...)

 

Following a prologue from me about the wines of Scandinavia, which is, in fact, a thing, journalist Barnaby Eales of show 327 (EU Ingredient Labeling) joins again to discuss his latest article from Meininger's Wine Business International "Cool Breizh", about the new trend towards winegrowing in the northwestern area of Brittany, France.

 

Frankly, my introduction and our conversation are a bit surreal to think about, but this is the new reality and we need to be open to what is coming next as traditional regions warm and we seek to maintain food friendly, balanced wines in our fridges.

In my intro, I discuss wines mainly of Scania, Sweden and I mention the PDO of Dons, Denmark, the EU's northernmost protected wine region. I discuss the grapes that are popular in both places:

  • Reds: Rondo, Regent and Léon Millot (all three are hybrids) with Pinot Noir and others
  • Whites: Solaris (a hybrid developed from Riesling) for acidity and sweetness with Pinot Gris and Auxerrois Blanc for sparkling wines

 

Barnaby and I discuss:

  • The background on his story, what is happening in Brittany, and why now

 

  • The terroir and which grapes are best suited to the area (hybrids for organics, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Chenin Blanc for vitis vinifera)


  • Some of the arcane laws that stopped Brittany from producing wine, even though it was capable of making great bottles 20 years ago. In addition, we discuss the very odd relationship Brittany has with the Loire (the Pays Nantais is really part of Brittany but was re-allocated under the Vichy fascist regime...it still stands today). 

 

  • The people who are trying to develop vineyards in Brittany -- they are from Provence, Bordeaux, and Champagne, among other places, and they are some big names. This is a serious place for wine in the future! 

 

I really encourage you to take a look at Barnaby's article. It's a great read and will really get you thinking about what's next.

 

If you want to read about Scandinavian wine, here are a few sources I used:

_____________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

Jun 28, 2021
Ep 379: The Main Alternatives to Oak --All About Concrete Eggs and Amphoras
01:02:24

Oak stabilizes color and smooths tannins, some think of it as a seasoning ingredient. But what about the other vessels that are increasingly popular for fermentation and aging? What do they do and are they really more than hype? We discuss the main alternatives to oak -- concrete and amphora, what each does and the benefits of each.

Photo: Concrete eggs made by Sonoma Cast Stone 

The show is a hybrid of discussion and interview, as I welcome Steve Rosenblatt of Sonoma Cast Stone, who manufactures custom concrete eggs and tanks, and Debbie Passin of VinEthos.com who sells custom, next generation amphora.

Photo: Vinethos

We start at the beginning and explain the purpose of all vessels for fermentation and aging.

 

For winemakers looking for good texture and small transfers of oxygen to smooth the tannins in reds and provide a good medium for sur lie aging in whites, but who don't want the oak flavor, they have a few choices.

  1. They can use aged, neutral oak barrels. These neutral barrels provide the benefits people seek but they do absorb a lot of wine, are hard to clean, and don't always keep the fresh flavors of the wine. 

  2. They can use stainless steel tanks or smaller stainless steel drums. These are great for wines that don't need any oxygen, as they keep flavors fresh and clean. They are temperature controlled, easy to clean and sanitize, and they allow the wine's flavor to shine. For those who want a more intense flavor, the smaller vessels will allow more contact with the lees (dead yeast cells that break up and give nutty, breads flavors to the wine). 

Photo: Quality Stainless Tanks 

But what if you want the benefits of oak without the flavor? That's where concrete eggs and amphoras come in. 

We first address concrete, which is at this time, a bit more popular than amphora. The main benefits we discuss:

  1. The shape of the egg allows for continuous flow to the wine as it ferments and matures, creating a more homogenous wine.
    • As fermentation creates heat, convection currents move the wine around, as it does in a tank or barrel. The currents are so strong, that the wine barely needs to be punched down or pumped over during fermentation. Battonage (stirring lees for increased flavor) also is barely needed. The lack of corners in the container mean there are no "dead areas" and the wine is more complex and uniform in quality and texture.

    • Tannins are softened during maturation: Similar to the benefits during fermentation, the egg shape constantly circulates the lees as the wine matures after malolactic fermentation so the tannins in reds are softer and finer with age in eggs.

 

  1. Insulation: Concrete can be up to six inches thick so there is natural insulation from outside temperature swings that stainless steel tanks cannot provide without cooling or heating coils. This allows wine from concrete eggs to maintain freshness.

 

  1. Oxygenation (with a caveat): Unlined concrete allows tiny amounts of oxygen to permeate and come into contact with the wine (from inside of the tank when it first is put in the tank). This softens tannins, creates complexity, texture, and a better mouthfeel especially during fermentation. The wine is fruity without any oak flavors.


  2. Beauty and sustainability: The vessels are beautiful, can be customized, and they last forever if they are taken care of – score for sustainability!

 

  1. Ease of cleaning in a fermentation or aging vessel is really essential in wine. Sanitized vessels = clean wine. Concrete is easy to sanitize and clean.

Photo: Steve Rosenblatt, Sonoma Cast Stone


After we set up the history and benefits of concrete, I welcome the wonderful Steve Rosenblatt, founder and owner of Sonoma Cast Stone (and hobbyist winemaker!), the only manufacturer of concrete eggs in the United States, who gives us incredible detail on these benefits and more.


Next, we discuss amphoras. The benefits are largely the same (shape allows convection, clay is great for insulation, they are beautiful and sustainable, and easy to clean) but the real difference is porosity of amphoras, which mimics oak without flavor more than concrete…

  • True mico-oxygenation...Amphoras are made of clay and the newest generation have materials that can be fired at very high temperatures (in a kiln). These new amphoras don’t impart flavor, don’t crack or leak, and they have small pores, which allow for slow and steady micro-oxygenation similar to oak. The wine has complex texture, tannins relax over time, and lees are integrated into the wine. The difference: the grape and terroir are preserved with no oaky flavor.

Photo: Deborah Passin of VinEthos.com

Deborah Passin of VinEthos, who sells the top amphora producer, helps explain amphora and, importantly, dispel the myth that somehow amphora are only for natural wine or for funky, oxidized styles.  Amphoras are great vessels for all wine.

 

I learned so much in this show – I hope you will too!

________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople 

 

 

Wine Access  

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
Jun 15, 2021
Ep 378: Prosecco -- The wine, the region, and how to get the best bottles
42:06

Prosecco is not only Italy’s most popular sparkler, but recently it has surpassed Champagne to become the world’s best-selling sparkling wine. In this show we go over the details of the Prosecco region, the winemaking techniques, and I share the most important thing about the wine and how to get the best: the DOCGs that make way better wine than the cheap and cheerful stuff at the supermarket.

 

By the end of the show you’ll understand why Prosecco shouldn't be compared to Champagne (spoiler alert – it’s not made the same and that’s on purpose!) and how to get better versions of what you may already be sipping!

Photo Valdobiaddene, Unsplash

 

Here are the show notes:

Location: The Prosecco DOC is in North East Italy between the Dolomite Mountains and the Adriatic Sea. It spans four provinces of the regions of Friuli Venezia Giulia (Gorizia, Pordenone, Trieste and Udine) and 5 provinces of the region of Veneto (Belluno, Padua, Treviso, Venice, Vicenza). Treviso and Trieste can add the special titles of Prosecco DOC Treviso and Prosecco DOC Trieste given their historic importance.  Given the vast area the DOC covers (23,000 ha/56,000 acres) and the diversity of soil – from poor hilltops to fertile, loamy valleys and plains – it is difficult to name a single style of Prosecco. Climates also range –from cooler sites with mountain or marine breezes, to very warm flat areas that produce masses of grapes for industrial wine.

Source: Prosecco DOC

Grape: The Glera grape is the main grape in Prosecco (although it used to be called the Prosecco grape!). It is grape prone to high yields, which must be controlled to get high quality wine. When it is grown on good sites, it has moderately high acidity, a lighter body, and relatively low alcohol levels (the wines are usually not more than 12% alcohol by volume). Flavors range but typically Glera exhibits melon, peach, pear, and white flower notes. Prosecco can also have up to 15% Verdiso, Bianchetta Trevigiana, Perera, Glera lunga, Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, and Pinot Nero grapes in the blend.

Source: Prosecco DOC

 

Prosecco is NOT Champagne and it shouldn’t be compared to it (or any of the other wines made in that method). The key difference in the flavor of Prosecco, apart from the Glera grape, is in the winemaking techniques (again, different from Champagne!!). In this process, you harvest the grape and make wine through a primary fermentation. But whereas in the traditional method of sparkling wine, where secondary fermentation takes place in individual bottles, Prosecco’s secondary fermentation takes place in autoclaves, large steel tanks kept under pressure.

 

The process takes as little as a month (versus the required 9 months for most sparkling wine in made in the traditional method), and the wines do not rest sur lie for a long period of time, so the fruitiness of the Glera grape is maintained, rather than replaced with the yeasty, bready character from the yeast. Further, the pressure within the bottle is significantly less in Prosecco, making it a much less bubbly wine in most cases (although there are exceptions). The process has several names: the Martinotti Method, the Charmat Method, Cuve Close, Tank Method, or Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Method.

 

It’s important to recognize that for grapes like Glera (or Riesling in Germany where this method is also used) preserving aroma while getting a fresh effervescence is the goal – they should not be handled like grapes used for the traditional method – the goal of those wines is different. Hence, we should not be comparing Prosecco to Champagne or other sparkling wines – it’s apples and oranges, really.

Source: Prosecco DOC

 

There are several types of Prosecco, they vary based on how sparkling they are:

  • Spumante (sparkling), which is the most common and the most bubbly and has a regular sparkling wine cork
    • In 2020, Prosecco DOC Rosé was approved as a new sub-category of Spumante. It must contain at least 85% Glera with 10-15% Pinot Nero. The wine must use the Martinotti/Charmat Method but spend 60 days in autoclave v 30 days for Prosecco DOC. It is vintage dated.

 

  • Frizzante (semi-sparkling), which has light and less persistent bubbles than Spumante an is more floral than fruity and often bottled with a screw cap.
    • Proseccco Col Fondo, is a frizzante, but more specifically a pétillant naturel(pét-nat). That means a single fermentation takes place in the bottle from which you drink the wine. It is cloudy and full of lees, or dead yeast cells, and often a bit bready from years on the lees.

  • Tranquillo (still), which is very uncommon and is bottled before the secondary fermentation

 

Similar to all sparkling wines, there is a sweetness scale for these wines, which you will see on the label:

  • Brut Nature (0-3 grams per liter of residual sugar)
  • Extra Brut (0-6 g/l of residual sugar)
  • Brut (up to 12 grams per liter of residual sugar)
  • Extra Dry (12–17 g/l of residual sugar)
  • Dry (17–32 g/l of residual sugar)
  • Demi-sec (32-50 g/l of residual sugar)

 

 

The DOCG

The 20% of high quality Prosecco production happens around the smaller, hilly, historic DOCG towns of Conegliano, Valdobbiadene and Asolo. These areas have strong diurnals, poorer soils (meaning, better for the vines), and the wines are a few steps above general Prosecco. They are more complex, the fruit flavors are purer – lemon, peach, pear notes are strong as well as floral notes, flintiness, chalk, and saline aromas and flavors. The wines tend to have lower levels of sugar and are more terroir driven. They are trying to distance themselves from cheaper big-brand Prosecco DOC, some even have elected to remove the world “Prosecco” from their front labels.

 

Here are the Prosecco Superiore DOCG to seek out:

  • Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG is a cut above and it’s a fairly low risk way to see how better Prosecco tastes.
  • Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore “Rive” DOCG is from the steep hills and top vineyards of 43 designated sites – these are outstanding terroir driven wines
  • Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze DOCG is the top wine of Prosecco. It consists of 107 ha/264 acres of vineyards on the steepest hillsides of San Pietro di Barbozza, Santo Stefano and Saccol, in Valdobbiadene.
  • Asolo Prosecco DOCG is outstanding, with great salinity and minerality as well

 

________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople 

 

 

Wine Access  

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
Jun 07, 2021
Ep 377: The Wines of Beaujolais and its Ten Divine Cru
58:43

Beaujolais is a unique, standalone wine region in central eastern France. Sandwiched between southern Burgundy (the Mâconnais) and Lyon (where it is their preferred wine), these wines and this terroir is like no other on earth. With high elevation from the western Massif Central, east and south-facing slopes, these wines get ripe over a long growing season with good diurnals. The unique pink granite and weathered granite sand, along with mineral rich soils of the northern section of Beaujolais, aren’t something you’ll easily find elsewhere in the wine world. In addition, nowhere else in the world specializes in the Gamay grape.

Source: www.beaujolais.com

This grape’s expression in the 10 Crus of Beaujolais – whether it be like iris and violets, tart cherry, blackberry, mineral or intense spice – is always surprising and refreshing due to the high acidity of the wines. The quality for price can’t be beat and as producers embrace traditional vinification rather than carbonic maceration (used in Beaujolais nouveau, which is declining) the wines continue to improve and show what Gamay and the Beaujolais region are capable of. We give you all the details you need to seek out these splendid, undervalued gems.

 

There are 12 Appellations in Beaujolais: 10 Cru and 2 regional appellations

 

Beaujolais/Beaujolais Superiéur are regional appellations. These wines are mainly (99%) red of Gamay. They are required to have a minimum of 10% alcohol (not very ripe!) and are generally made via semi-carbonic maceration. These wines can be red or rosé. The reds taste like red grapes, cranberry, cherry, banana, candied pear, and are light in color, light in tannin and high in acidity. 1% of Beaujolais AOC wines are simple whites of Chardonnay.

Added designations:

  • Superiéur: The wines have lower yields, and 0.5% more alcohol. You can only use this designation for reds.
  • 30 specific village names can be added to the Beaujolais AOC or Beaujolais Superieur
  • Nouveau/Primeur: released the third Thursday of November, made through carbonic maceration, these wines represent 2/3 of the Beaujolais AOC. All are hand harvested to keep the whole grapes for carbonic maceration

 

Beaujolais Villages are from 38 specific villages that are deemed
extremely high quality and can also be red or rosé although they are mainly red.  These reds are darker in color and less grapey than basic Beaujolais. They have red and black berry, mineral, and spice notes, with more tannin and strong acidity.  Some of these wines are made without carbonic maceration and are more serious wines with complexity, although Villages can be sold as Nouveau as well. 

 

Beaujolais Villages Blanc are 100% Chardonnay and are concentrated in flavor, similar to the wines of Mâconnais. 

 

Crus: The 10 best of Beaujolais

All wine is 100% Gamay. The pruning methods, vine density and yields are specified by commune. All grapes for the Crus are hand-harvested, most of it is hand-sorted. The best of these wines are transitioning from carbonic maceration to traditional red wine fermentation. The minimum required minimum alcohol is 10%. Although “Cru de Beaujolais” must be somewhere on the label, it is generally in very small print, so you need to know the names of the Crus to find them!

 

The Crus also have special vineyard sites, or climats, which you will see on the bottle and should seek out. Because so few people are familiar with these wines, they are incredibly affordable, with great examples costing less than US$30!

 

From north to south, as we discuss in the show, the Crus are: Saint-Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Moulin-á-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régníe, Côte de Brouilly, Brouilly

Source: www.discoverbeaujolais.com

In groups by style, here are the descriptions of each…

Light -Medium Bodied: Chiroubles

These wines are floral, with iris, violet, and peony notes. They also have red berry and baking spice aromas and flavors with a light body and the famed “Glisser en bouche” – glides down the throat – quality. These wines ages 2 to 5 years.

 

Medium-Bodied

Saint -Amour is made in two styles.

  • Style 1: Light, fruity, grapey, peachy, and like violets/flowers. Acidic and should be consumed within a year or two of vintage.
  • Style 2: Medium-bodied, slightly tannic, with sour cherry, ginger, baking spice and a savory, earthy quality that is like Pinot Noir with age. The best can age 10 years.

 

Fleurie is elegant and silky with iris, violet, rose, red fruit, and peach aromas and flavors. Fleurie wines can be soft or more substantial with dark fruit notes. They can age up to 5 years

Source: www.beaujolais.com

Brouilly is fruit-driven with plum, red berry, cherry notes and sometimes mineral notes. They are have softer tannins and can age 3 to 5 years.

 

 

Medium- to full-bodied:

Cote de Brouilly is sourced from the high-altitude areas within Brouilly. The wines are more robust in body with blackberry, plum, fresh grape, iris flower, and black pepper notes. They have strong acidity and mild tannin. They taste better after 4 to 6 years.

 

Juliénas is highly aromatic with sweet and tart red berry, violet/dark flower, cinnamon, peach notes, and a mineral earthiness. They have great acidity and can age 6 to 10 years.

 

Full-bodied:

Chenás is floral with peony and rose aromas. It has a special spicy, woodsy quality, regardless of whether it has been in a barrel. Chénas has some tannin and is ageworthy – it can age 8 to 10 years.

 

Moulin-a-Vent is the King of Beaujolais; the pinnacle of the region. When it’s young, it’s like violets, cherries, and plums with a mineral, earth note. With age (the wines improve over 10 or more years), these wines become more like Pinot Noir - Indian spice, sandalwood, and earth.  They are balanced with good tannin and acidity.

Source: www.beaujolais.com

 

Morgon is the longest lived of the Cru, with aging potential of 5 to 20 years. These wines are full-bodied and powerful with black cherry, peach, plum, and violet. Their tannin, flavor, and acidity allow them to evolve and with time, get earthier (like truffles) and spicy (like licorice or mellow spice), and the texture is velvety. “Morgonner”, or to “Morgon” is a local word that describes how these wines evolve.

 

Régníe is full-bodied but not as ageworthy as the others in this category. The wines taste like tart cherry, raspberry, red currant, plum, blackcurrant, blackberry aromas. Acidic, mineral, spice, some tannin

 

Food for heavier styles:  Steak, mushroom-based dishes, eggplant-based dishes with herbs and pepper, strong cheeses, pizza with meat toppings, tuna, salmon, lentils, black bean burgers, and anything with garlic.

 

Food for medium to light styles:  Brie, anything with garlic, salmon, cod with garlic based sauces, turkey burgers with savory notes, dishes with scallion/onion as a main flavor, Thanksgiving fare, bacon dishes, pork with fruit glazes (fruitier wines).

 

If you have not tried these splendid Cru, go out and get the one that sounds the best to you immediately. These are wines to discover. Once you do, you’ll drink them forever!

 

________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople 

 

 

Wine Access  

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.

 

Sources:

Jun 01, 2021
Ep 376: The 1976 Judgment of Paris -- the Tasting That Made California Wine Famous
52:52

First, thanks to listener and Patron Rafael C. for the podcast topic this week!

It is the 45th Anniversary of the Judgment of Paris: a tasting of California and French wines, organized but the late Steve Spurrier, that opened the door for wines from the US and all over the New World to be recognized for their excellence. We should raise a glass to him, his partner Patricia Gallagher, and to journalist and author George Taber, all of whom made this event so very significant. 

Here's a quick recap, all of which we cover in the podcast...

In 1976, an English wine shop owner, Steven Spurrier, and the director of his adjacent wine school, Patricia Gallagher, wanted to introduce members of the French culinary elite to the wines of California. The goal was to show them the new developments happening across the world in wine (and to get publicity for Cave de la Madeleine and the Academie du Vin -- genius marketing!).

 

Photo: Berry Bros & Rudd Wine Blog

In preparation, Spurrier and Gallagher researched, tasted, and carefully selected 6 boutique California Chardonnays and 6 boutique Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines. They brought these wines to France and on May 24, 1976 conducted a three-hour tasting that (unbeknownst to them) would change the wine world forever.

 

Nine French judges sat at the Intercontinental Hotel in Paris and sipped 6 California Chardonnays with a group of four high end white Burgundies (100% Chardonnay). They followed that up with 6 California Cabernet Sauvignons and four of the best Bordeaux from the Left Bank. The results were as follows:

 

Chardonnays

  1. 1973 Chateau Montelena, Napa Valley (family owned)
  2. 1973 Roulot Meursault Charmes, Premier Cru, Bourgogne
  3. 1974 Chalone Vineyards, Santa Cruz Mountains (owned by Diageo)
  4. 1973 Spring Mountain Vineyard, Napa Valley (owned by an investment company)
  5. 1973 Joseph Drouhin Beaune “Clos des Mouches,” Premier Cru Bourgogne
  6. 1972 Freemark Abbey, Napa Valley (owned by Jackson Family Wines/Kendall-Jackson)
  7. 1973 Ramonet-Prudhon, Bâtard-Montrachet, Grand Cru, Bourgogne
  8. 1972 Domaine Leflaive, Puligny- Montrachet, “Les Pucelles”, Premier Cru, Bourgogne
  9. 1972 Veedercrest Vineyards, Napa Valley (shut down for 20 years, resurrected in 2005 under a sole proprietor)
  10. 1972 David Bruce Winery, Santa Cruz Mountains (family owned)

National Museum of American History -- Smithsonian Photo

Photo: National Museum of American History -- Smithsonian 

The Cabernets/Bordeaux

  1. 1973 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Napa Valley (owned by Chateau Ste. Michelle/Antinori)
  2. 1970 Château Mouton-Rothschild, Pauillac, Bordeaux
  3. 1970 Château Haut-Brion, Graves, Bordeaux
  4. 1970 Château Montrose, St-Éstephe, Bordeaux
  5. 1971 Ridge Vineyards, Monte Bello, Santa Cruz Mountains (owned since 1987 by a Japanese pharmaceutical company)
  6. 1971 Château-Leoville-Las-Cases, St. Julien, Bordeaux
  7. 1971 Mayacamas Vineyards, Napa Valley (family owned)
  8. 1972 Clos du Val, Napa Valley (family owned)
  9. 1970 Heitz Cellars, Martha’s Vineyard, Napa Valley (investor owned)
  10. 1969 Freemark Abbey, Napa Valley (owned by Jackson Family Wines/Kendall-Jackson)

 

Shocking and unexpected though they were, the results helped land California a seat at the table in the world of serious wine and paved the way for other regions to show that they were also capable of making excellent wines.

Photo: Bella Spurrier

The contest was not without objection. According to George Taber’s book (FYI -this is an affiliate link and I may earn a small commission from your purchase) the major ones were:

  1. The 20-point system was too limiting (but 20 points was standard at the time, I think any scale would have been criticized)

  2. For each category there were only four French wines to six California wines, so the odds were statistically in California’s favor (this is a very valid argument but the purpose of the tasting was for fun and learning, so we can’t really fault Spurrier for not knowing!)

  3. Spurrier didn’t choose the best French vintages (Spurrier picked French wines he thought would win, this was the best available)

  4. The French wines were too young (the tasting has been replicated and the California wines have aged better than the French wines!)

  5. Blind tastings suck – (this is very true but there was no "gotcha" here. It was just done to remove judgment, not to make people guess what wine was what Chateau!)

 

My additional objections:

  1. It is quite unfair to judge French wine without food. A small roll for palate cleansing isn’t enough. With a meal, the French wines would have been different. Food must be at the table for a fair judgement.

  2. The order of the wines in a tasting matters. Of course a lighter style wine tried after a heavier one will seem washed out. I don’t know what the case was here, but the “out of the hat” system was probably not the best order for the wines.

  3. We do need to realize that 1976 was a very difficult time for France. It was still rebuilding after the trauma of two World Wars in very quick succession and it took years to garner investment and get the wineries functioning and modernized. This was likely in the period of transition and that means the wines, made by traditional methods may have tasted less “clean” in comparison to the wines of California, which benefitted from cutting edge technology and scientific know-how, which was part of the culture of the reborn wine culture there.

 

That said, we all must raise a glass to Steve Spurrier, Patricia Gallagher, and George Taber for holding/covering this event, which improved and globalized wine for the modern times!

Book cover from Amazon.com

I highly recommend George Taber’s book "Judgment of Paris"  It’s a great read!

 

PS-- As we discussed in the show, check out my friend Tanisha
Townsend's podcast, "Wine School Dropout" and her site Girl Meets Glass!

________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople 

 

 

Wine Access  

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.

 

May 24, 2021
Ep 375: Phil Long of Longevity Wines -- Bringing Heart to CA's Livermore Valley
45:18

Winemaker/Founder Phil Long of Longevity Wines is a true
Garagiste – he began his making wine in the garage with his late wife Debra in the mid-2000s. In 2008, the couple quit their full-time jobs and the couple opened their tasting room and winery in the Livermore Valley near their home.

Livermore Valley is a sub-AVA of the Central Coast with a really unique climate (I lived in Pleasanton, the next town over, so I speak from experience!) – with cool nights and some San Francisco Bay influence bumping up against the heat from the east of the Central Valley. The wines were sourced using local fruit and Longevity grew from a few hundred, to a few thousand cases. 

Map from the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association

Phil is revered for his balanced wines from Bordeaux and Rhone varietals. His wines include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, Debruvee (the GSM Rhone Style blend), and Philosophy (Bordeaux style blend). In 2018, the Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association voted Longevity Winery of the Year. With their artfully designed labels (done by Phil as a tribute to Debra), Longevity's wines are also a darling of Hollywood, with bottles being featured on tv shows and in movies.

Phil is the President of the Association of African American Vintners (AAAV) and has been a key player in the discussion around the lack of diversity in the wine industry. We discuss his role as the spokesperson for the organization and the importance of making changes to improve the wine industry as a whole. 

Phil is a down-to-earth, smart, and talented guy. Despite how big Longevity may be in the future with the Bronco partnership, I don't think that will ever change! 

__________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

 

Wine Access     

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
May 17, 2021
Ep 374: Bordeaux Classification Systems Explained
51:43

After a few conversations, it became clear that M.C. Ice has been very confused about the differences between classification systems in France. Isn't Bordeaux the same as Burgundy? What’s the terminology -- it's it Premier Cru? Grand Cru? What exactly is each place ranking? And why do they do it at all?

In this show we get in the weeds on the five classifications of Bordeaux (read the Wine For Normal People book or listen to Ep 59 and 60 to get up to speed on Bordeaux before attempting this!). We talk about their history, what they aimed to achieve and the criteria each use. We try to clear up what each is ranking, how they are ranked and why it all matters. MC Ice was clear by the end, we hope you are too!

 

Here are the classifications of Bordeaux mentioned in the show:

1855 Classification (with Sauternes and Barsac):

The terminology for each level is “Cru”, there are five levels:

  • First-Growths / Premières Crus
  • Second-Growths / Deuxièmes Crus
  • Third-Growths / Troisièmes Crus
  • Fourth-Growths / Quatrièmes Crus
  • Fifth-Growths / Cinquièmes Crus
  • Sauternes and Barsac have first and second growths, and Château d’Yquem is a Great First-Growth / Grand Premier Cru

 

And the 1961 Proposed classification

 

Graves Classification

  • Grand Cru Classé de Graves

 

St Émilion Classification

  • Premier Grand Cru Classé 'A'  
  • Premier Grand Cru Classé 'B'
  • Grand Cru Classé
  • St Émilion Grand Cru

 

 

Cru Bourgeois

  • Crus Bourgeois
  • Crus Bourgeois Supérieurs
  • Crus Bourgeois Exceptionnels

 

Cru Artisan Classification (only Médoc)

 

__________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

Wine Access     

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

May 11, 2021
Ep 373: Tips for Wine Travel with Travel Writer and Media Producer, Krista Simmons
52:56

Krista Simmons is a culinary travel writer and producer who runs the digital media company, Fork in the Road Media. She has been on TV shows like Top Chef Masters, Knife Fight, Hell's Kitchen, The Today Show, and more. She has written for Travel + Leisure, Departures, and the Los Angeles Times.

Krista is the real deal: she has held jobs in the restaurant industry since she was 15. And following that she traveled, went to culinary school, and she's studying for WSET Level 2 Exam. She has lived more in her young life than most of us could hope to in our whole lives!

 

In the show Krista joins to share her wisdom and advice on wine travel, and specifically on travel in the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara, California, which she recently covered for a ridiculously popular piece in Condé Nast Travel: How to Spend a Weekend in California's Santa Ynez Valley

We share several tips, and go through the "personalities" of the major areas of the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County (Solvang, Los Olivos, Los Alamos, Santa Ynez, Buellton). Here are some highlights with links we mention:

Tip 1: Stay close to where you want to go to dinner! That way you can walk home after having some adult beverages. Some hotels we mention:

The Winston, Solvang

 

Tip 2: Find great restaurants by following people like Krista and the publications she writes for (like Condé Nast Traveler). Food bloggers are another great source of info for top restaurants you may want to hit while visiting wine country. Also, ask your local chefs if they have ever traveled to the area you are going and if they know any great restaurants.

When on the ground, tasting room staff are a great resource for the best local fare! 

Here are some restaurants we mention:

Pico Restaurant, Los Alamos 

Tip 3: Pack well! We spend lots of time talking about packing for comfort (NO HIGH HEELS!). Krista mentions some specific shoe brands:

She also recommends bringing a jacket for the cool nights and a hat for the hot daytime!

 

Tip 4: If you're traveling on a budget, plan trips for the “shoulder season” – the least busy time of the year. In wine country that's December to February. Travel during the week if you can, it will save you a bundle.

 

We share so many more tips, including the biggest pitfalls you can fall into in travel. This is a great show for all wine country travel and it is a must if you are going to Santa Barbara County wine country! 

 

Make sure to follow Krista and listen to her podcast, Fork in the Road (especially the episode with Wine for Normal People 😉)

__________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

 

Wine Access     

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

May 03, 2021
Ep 372: The Grape Miniseries -- Gruner Veltliner
44:55

Grüner Veltliner (GROOH-ner felt-LEEN-ah) is the main white grape of Austria. In this show we discuss its surprisingly recent rise to fame, its unusual origin, and its important place in wine.

 

Here are the show notes:

History and Parents of Grüner

  • We discuss this beautiful white grape whose name means  'green grape from the village of Veltlin in the Tyrol (Italy)," despite that fact that the grape likely comes from Niederösterreich, Austria
  • M.C. Ice becomes baffled by Savagnin v Sauvignon. We settle on calling Savagnin it's other name, Traminer.
  • The story of Grüner's other parent, St. Georgener is a marvel.In short, it was discovered as a 100+ year old lone vine growing on a cattle farm in 2000 after a local vintner followed a hunch that it was there. After six years of study, it became clear it was the parent of Grüner. In 2011, vandals chopped this old, lone vine into smithereens -- the ancient trunk and all shoots were hacked to pieces, devastating the Austrian wine industry. The thieves were never caught (although M.C. Ice swears he's on the job) but grapes are hard to keep down -- new shoots from this old vine grew from the ground and now the new growth is a national monument.

 

  • We discuss how Grüner Veltliner was not much of a revered grape in Austria until the proper trellising system came along and changed the game. In the 1950s, producer Lenz Moser created a new vine training system that changed the way the grape is grown."High culture" or Hochkultur calls for growing the vine trunk to (1.3 m/ 4.3 ft) and reducing vine density by wide row spacing.  These changes revolutionized Grüner. By 2002 it gained great critical acclaim and it grew in popularity from there.

Here is a link to the Wall Street Journal article written by Leattie Teague, who I referred to as the  "bizarro" me (as Seinfeld reference -- it means it is you, only the exact opposite!). In this case, I don't think Grüner has ever been "out of fashion" but I also don't believe in wines being fashionable, so there's that. 

 

Grüner in the Vineyard

  • To get the best wines from this grape, restricting yields is essential
  • This mid-ripening grape has very green, yellow toned berries and does well on Loess soils, does not like dry soils

 

The rest of the show is a quick tour of the regions... 

Austria 

  • Weinviertel DAC : Austria’s largest wine-growing region, this northeast area is home to more than half of all Austrian Grüner Veltliner. The wines from the west are lighter and more minerally. Those in the northeast are spicy. In the southeast the wines are soft, round, and can be at higher levels of ripeness (on the Prädikat scale  -- Auslese, Beerenauslause -- fully ripe to botrytized unctuous wines).  Weinviertel Grüner is known for  “Pfefferl” - white, black, and green pepper notes with fruit and acidity.

 

  • Traisental DAC: Along the Traisen -- a tributary of the Danube -- this is a small area with very long lived Reserve wines and fruity, spicy, acidic, minerally Grüner Veltliner. The single vineyard wines are prized, albeit hard to find outside of Austria.

 

  • Leithaberg DAC : Creates varietally labeled or blended Grüner  (often with Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Neuberger)

 

  • Wagram DAC: Known for easy drinking spicy wines but the region does make rich reserve wines as well.

 

Austrian Grüner's "Big Three" along the Danube: Kamptal, Kremstal, Wachau

  • Kamptal DAC: Named for the river Kamp that runs through it, Kamptal is known for mid-weight to very robust, dry wines with tropical, mineral, and peppery notes. In cooler years the wines are lighter and refreshing, in warmer ones it is full bodied and silky with fruit and pepper flavors and aromas.

 

  • Kremstal DAC: Named for the Krems river, Kremstal has three zones that produce different styles. The best generally come from the loess (wind-blown silt soils) terraces along the Danube, which create round, full-bodied, fruity wines with ample acidity for balance. Kremstal is slightly warmer than Kamptal, so especially in cooler vintages, Kremstal will show noticeably silkier textures, more body, and more fruit than the wines of Kamptal

 

  • Wachau DAC (as of spring 2020): The most famed area for Grüner Velliner in the world, this narrow valley runs from the city of Melk to Krems. Vineyards are on steep, terraced hills, which face south and must be harvested by hand. The climate here represents the meeting of the cooler Atlantic air from the west and the warmer Pannonian air from the east -- the blend is ideal for growing Grüner. Wachau makes some of the best Grüner in the world. When it is made from ideal sites and aged, many compare it to the finest Burgundies, for a fraction of the price. Wachau has its own ripeness classification:
    • Steinfeder is for lighter wines with up to 11.5% alcohol
    • Federspiel is the classic Wachau wines with good ripeness and flavor, and alcohols ranging from 11.5%-12.5% ABV
    • Smargd is for full ripe grapes with ABV of more than 12.5% (smargd is a green lizard that runs around the vineyards of Wachau)
(more information on all these spots at the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, from which much of the above info is sourced)

 

Other spots in Europe that grow Grüner:  Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Trentino Alto-Adige (Italy),  Wurttemberg (Germany), France

 

Grüner in the New World

In the US:

  • The Finger Lakes and Long Island in New York
  • Various other east coast states including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Virginia
  • California – various places, including ACORN Winery in Sonoma, which will soon have a white field blend featuring Grüner
  • Oregon: Both in  Willamette Valley and Umpqua Valley
  • Washington State

Other spots around the New world...

  • Canada:  British Columbia is experimenting with Grüner
  • Australia: South Australia, specifically Adelaide Hills as well as Canberra
  • New Zealand: Gisbourne on the North Island, Marlborough and Central Otago on the South Island (I didn't mention this in the podcast but there is a good amount of loess soil in New Zealand, which is ideal for Grüner. This is especially true in Central Otago, where the climate is similar to that of Wachau).

 

A final note on Grüner Veltliner styles...

There is a tremendous amount of variety -- some wines are fresh and young wine, some are sparkling, some are very age worthy. Boiling it down to basics, we could put flavors into two buckets:

  • Light, fresh, minerally with arugula, pepper, lemon, grapefruit and other citrus character. Some have spritz (small bubbles) to show off the minerality and fruit. The acidity may seem more pronounced in these styles because the fruit is not as ripe and lush
  • Heavy, complex, with white pepper spice, tropical fruit or ripe apple notes, can be silky but with balancing acidity. These are the versions you find from warmer sites like Wachau, Kremstal and Kamptal regions. Look for "Reserve" on the bottle if you plan to age these wines. And wait a few years before you have them -- many aren't ready for five or more years.

Other style notes:

  • Grüner is generally made without oak aging in small or new barriques, as it hides the beautiful natural flavors of the grape.
  • The sweet wines of Grüner are full and ripe -- like peaches, pineapple, and nutmeg but their richness is balanced by strong acidic.

 

Grüner Veltliner Food Pairing Ideas

  • Charcuterie, schnitzel, smoked fish
  • Salads, asparagus, other green veggies
  • Vietnamese or Thai food. Lemongrass or spicy curries, and spring rolls are great pairings

 

If you haven't had Grüner get some today (I promise it's not a has-been. And if it is, let's snatch up what all the trendy people don't want -- their loss!).

 

__________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

 

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Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
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Apr 26, 2021
Ep 371: The Wines of Croatia
39:23

Croatia is a small country with unlimited wine potential. With a 2,500-year history of winemaking, this beautiful nation has coast, islands, and inland hills, all with unique soil types that make its growing conditions unlike anywhere else in the world. The four main regions make distinctive wines using indigenous grapes and although the industry is just getting back on its feet after a century of war, socialism, and poor viticulture, Croatia is a country on the ascent, and one you should know about! 

Dubrovnik in Dalmatia

These show notes really have to be a list of places and grapes, to help you figure out what the heck we were saying on the show. So here it is, as promised:

 

Source: Croatian Chamber of Economy and Croatian Premium Wine Imports

Continental/Inland areas

Croatian Uplands: The cool, hilly areas around the nation’s capital of Zagreb

  • Whites: Muscat, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay,
    • Furmint (Hungary’s grape used for Tokaji, known as Pušipel or Moslavac),
    • Škrlet (like Grüner Veltliner)
    • Sparkling wine production using traditional method with long lees aging
  • Reds: Pinot Noir, Purtugizec (Blauer Porturgieser)

 

Slavonia: A flatter area that goes east from Zagreb to where the Danube hits Serbia. It has Gently rolling hills but the area is famed from the Slavonian oak for (especially Italian) barrels.

  • Whites:
    • Graševina (grah-shay-VEEN-ah) - Croatia’s most planted white variety,
    • Traminac (Gewürztraminer) in warmer sites
  • Reds:
    • Frankovka (Blaufränkisch) for still and sparkling wines

 

 

The Dalmatian Coast and Istria

Dalmatia and Croatia’s Islands: The southernmost region of Croatia, the area has a mild Mediterranean climate – with dry, hot summers, mild winters with rain. This is the big tourist area, it lies on the coast and includes Split and the city of Dubrovnik (the city of King’s Landing in the HBO Show “Game of Thrones.” Yes, I did read all 6 books).

 

There is island viticulture here and we mention some specific places: Brač, Vis, Korčula, Hvar (where the world’s oldest continuously cultivated vineyard can be found at Stari Grad Plain). Also home to the great wines of the Peljesac (pell-yer-shatz) Peninsula

  • Whites:
    • Pošip (po-SHIP)
    • Vuguva (VOO-gah-vah)
    • Maraština (mar-ahsh-TEEN-a)
    • Debit
    • Grk
  • Reds:
    • Crljenak Kastelnski (serl-YEN-ick casht-el-EN-ski)/Tribidag (regional name for same grape)
    • Babić (bab-ICH)
    • Plavac Mali (plaa-VAHTZ mah-lee) -- From Postup and Dingač (where Miljenko (Mike) Grgić was born)

 

 

Istria is the dynamic, outward looking, northern-most wine region. Throughout history it belonged to Austria, Italy, and Yugoslavia and that means it has a influences in food and wine from these nations. Istria has a Mediterranean climate, like Dalmatia but it is slightly cooler. It has rocky soils, rolling hills, and iron rich red soils (terra rossa like the Coonawarra of South Australia).

  • Whites:
    • 2/3 production is the Malvazija Istarska grape (Malvasia Istriana in Italy)
    • Žlahtina (zh-LACHK-teen-ah): grown only on the island of Krk (KIRK), with citrus and pear notes, soft round textures and low acidity
  • Reds:
    • Native red variety Teran – acidic, aromatic medium to full bodied reds, best on clay-based terra rossa soils. Also great for Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and the native varieties. Also Refošk.
    • Good wine tourism here

 

 

Grape Descriptions

 

Whites

Graševina: Welschriesling, Laški Rizling, Riesling Italico, Olasz Riesling): Croatia’s most planted white and grape variety overall

  • Best in continental climate on the plains of Slavonia
  • Styles range
    • young, fresh, saline, and grassy when aged in neutral vessels
    • Oak-aged with floral, peachy, apricot notes and a fuller body.
  • Can age well, can be dry or off-dry, sparkling, botrytized, ice wine. Part of Gemišt, a mix of Graševina with sparkling water

 

Malvazija Istarska: Malvasia grown in Croatia with no relation to the Malvasia from Greece or Italy. Croatia’s second most-planted variety, can reflect terroir well

  • Istria’s big grape –representing more than 50% of all their whites
  • Styles:
    • Fermented and aged in stainless steel – floral, honey, apple, pear notes, with lower acidity, salinity
    • With extended skin contact and barrel aging -- full-bodied white or orange wine
  • Experimentation with oak, concrete, amphora, skin contact is becoming common

 

Whites of Dalmatia

Pošip: Originally from the island of Korčula (CORE-chu-lah) where it was shielded form phylloxera as it grew on sandy soils. It also grows on the Pelješac Peninsula and on Brač and Hvar, and other islands

  • The wine is aromatic, herbal, grassy, and acidic. Can be oaked, aged on the lees, huge styles, passito for region’s traditional sweet wine Prošek

 

Debit is like minerally Sauvignon Blanc but with more lime than grapefruit flavor. With oak age this wine can be like a medium bodied Chardonnay.

 

Maraština is dry and full-bodied with peach, nut, and floral aromas and a full, viscous texture.

 

Vugava: Mostly found on island of Vis in central Dalmatia, which has steep hillsides.

  • The grape is similar to the Rhône Valley’s Viognier –it can get overripe and its lovely notes of apricot, honey, and flowers can verge on excessive, especially when accompanied by high alcohol and low acidity. For this reason, it used to be for blending only but growers are getting better at making varietal versions

 

 

Reds

Plavac Mali: The third most planted variety, it is grown mostly in southern Dalmatia, in bush vines on rocky soils and steep south-facing slopes. Dingač and Postup on the Pelješac peninsula are famed.

  • Cross between Crlenjak Kaštelanski (Tribidrag or Crljenak Kaštelanski depending on the locality ancestral Zinfandel) and Dobričić (an ancient red wine grape variety from the Dalmatian coast).
    • Similarities to Zinfandel: flavors like raisins, plums, and herbs. Both ripen to very high alcohol and have problems with uneven ripening, which makes them difficult to grow.
    • Differences with Zinfandel: Plavac Mali is denser and heavier than Zinfandel and can have more black cherry flavors and more tannin. Plavac Mali can have lower acidity and producers sometimes do it no favors by putting it in new oak for too long

 

 

Babić: A small percentage is grown but some is imported to the US. It is grown Northern Dalmatia, NE of Split, some on the island of Korčula

  • The grape is related to Dobričić so it is also a relative of Plavac Mali
  • The wines are full bodied, herbal, acidic, with cherry notes, soft tannins, and lower alcohol levels

 

 

Teran: Grown in Istria, this lighter style, thin-skinned grape was grown in Istria for centuries, replaced with French varieties but is making a comeback

  • The wines have good acidity and tannin. They look dark but have lighter aromas like red fruit, earthy, herbs, pepper. These wines are good for barrel aging and can age

 

Sources: Vina CroatiaWine Anorak, The BuyerSevenFifty, Wine Enthusiast

__________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

 

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Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
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Apr 19, 2021
Ep 370: Six (or Twelve) Unorthodox Wines for Spring
33:46

For this show, we discuss a list of lovely reds and whites that you won't see on other lists for spring wines. Etna from Sicily? Check. Chignin Bergeron from Savoie in France? Yup. If you're looking for a change from the norm and a great spring list, here it is! 

As promised, here is the list...with some example labels to make shopping easy (see the winefornormalpeople.com/blog for label examples)

 

  1. With its medium body, excellent acidity, and minerally flavors, Etna Rosso from Sicily is a must have for spring. It can gracefully handle grilled food as well as it does mushroom risottos!

The bonus wine: Etna Bianco, made of the Carricante grape. Similar nature, but with a greater hit of acidity and a cheek coating texture. Taste the volcano! 

 

  1. As we called it in the Chardonnay episode, Jura is the Bizarro Burgundy. It's just across the Bresse plain and grows similar grapes...except when it doesn't. In the Arbois region, light, spicy, peppery reds of Poulsard and Trousseau can be lovely on a spring evening with salads, morel mushrooms, and flavorful fish like salmon.

The bonus wines: sparkling Crémant from the Jura made of Chardonnay and becoming more widely available OR Chignin Bergeron, aka Roussanne, from the neighboring region, Savoie. That peachy, herbal, fuller body with good acidity is great when there’s still a chill in the air but you still want to stay outside!

 

  1. Bordeaux, M.C. Ice’s favorite. For spring, a white Bordeaux with a large proportion of the waxy, peachy, sautéed herb, honeycomb flavored/textured Sémillon is nice as the nights warm up. Sauvignon Blanc gives these blends excellent acidity and herbal aromatics but you just need a touch of that when we’re dealing with spring. The great part about Bordeaux Blanc? You can switch to Sauvignon Blanc heavy blends in the summer for a more refreshing bottle! I recommend steering clear of Bordeaux Blanc and Bordeaux Blanc Superieur (unless you know the producer) and seeking out wines from the Côtes de Bordeaux (label examples below). If you can swing it, get a wine from Pessac-Leognan – the best areas for whites in Bordeaux.

The bonus wines: Merlot heavy red blends from the Côtes de Bordeaux—Castillon and Francs are the more serious areas but Blaye may be the most refreshing for our spring hit list.

  1. No list of mine is complete without Alsace, France. However, this time I’m switching up my regular Riesling reco and instead recommending Pinot Gris. We’re not in summer yet and the nights can have a nip, so Alsace Pinot Gris, with pear, citrus, white flower, and smoke notes, and a medium body will be a versatile sipper. It goes so well with onion tartlets, mushroom quiche, and chicken in herbal and citrus preparations!

The bonus wine: Yup, I’m doing it. Pinot Grigio. No, not the alcoholic lemon water! The good stuff from Trentino Alto-Adige. If you get a case, try the Pinot Gris and the Pinot Grigio together to see the similarities and differences. Pinot Grigio will be nuttier with higher acidity and more lemon notes, but the similarity will be far greater between these two wines than if you get a cheapy from the bottom shelf of the grocery!

 

  1. Rosé. Here’s the one on everyone’s list, but rightfully so. Fresh rosé is released in the springtime and there is nothing better than newly released rosé. Provence is the standard – especially from sub regions like Sainte-Victoire, Frejus, and La Londe. We forgot to mention Tavel and Bandol in the show, which are always homeruns. Rosé is versatile in pairing – fried foods, grilled salmon, strawberry salads with goat cheese, and pasta with pesto (pistou as it’s known in Provence) are some options.

Bonus wines: Other styles of rosé, especially California with its sun kissed styles from Pinot Noir or Spanish rosé from Tempranillo, Garnacha, or Monastrell are outstanding and great for a contrast against the lighter Provence style. Italian rosato can be wonderful as well and is made in most regions from their local grapes.

 

  1. The last one was really “Sophie’s Choice” for me. I couldn’t decide between Malbec and Torrontés from high elevation Salta in Argentina or Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from cool climate Casablanca from Chile. Ultimately the floral, peachy yet acidic and slightly bitter Torrontés from Cafayate/Salta and its intense, yet elegant counterpart Malbec from the same region seemed to be best for us. M.C. Ice astutely pointed out that for people living in hotter areas where spring becomes summer-like quickly, the high acidity and refreshing lighter notes in the Chilean wines were the winners. Either way, you can’t go wrong!

 

Happy Spring! We hope you drink well, and that this list gives you at least one new idea to try as the days heat up slowly over the next few months.

 

__________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

 

Wine Access     

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

Apr 12, 2021
Ep 369: The Greats -Sauternes and Barsac
57:47

Of the greatest sweet wines of the world, those of Bordeaux – Sauternes and Barsac – may be the most famed. These small regions (covering just 2,217 ha/5,478 acres) and their 132 producers, make some of the world's most prestigious, long-lived and expensive sweet wines.

From Ch d'Yquem siteSource: https://yquem.fr/int-en/the-miracle-of-yquem

Located just 40 miles/65 km south of Bordeaux city, along the Garonne and Ciron Rivers, the AOC Sauternes includes the communes of Barsac, Sauternes, Bommes, Fargues, and Preignac. These areas are undulating, with a combination of soils and some elevations up to 240 feet. The Barsac AOC, which can also use Sauternes AOC, stands alone as the commune with unique character – it is distinguished by its limestone and sandy soils, which create lighter, more minerally and elegant styles of this beautiful wine. This area is flatter, but the Barsac has limestone soils, which make the wines taste as they do.

 

Both Sauternes and Barsac are made from a combination of three main grapes  -Sémillon for structure, smoothness, and richness, Sauvignon Blanc for herbal aromatics and acidity, and a small proportion of Muscadelle, also for aroma.

The key to Sauternes, the thing that makes it stand apart from other sweet wines is the unique climate conditions that occur here regularly in the autumn most harvests. During Autumn mornings in Sauternes, the cooler Ciron River meets the warmer Garonne and condensation or mist forms, covering certain vineyards. These moist areas could be subject to grey rot (and sometimes are) but if those moist conditions are followed by drier, warmer afternoons, instead of grey rot, Botrytis cinerea forms. This fungus attacks grapes, perforating their skins and allowing moisture trapped inside to evaporate when this happens over a number of weeks, the result is a complex wine, that has aromas and flavors like apricot, mango, tropical fruit, honeycomb/beeswax, honeysuckle, hazelnut, almond, flowers, peaches, nutty, pears, orange, (new oak: vanilla, butterscotch), and has sweetness with strong acidity and a long finish. The best of these can age up to 50 years.

Botrytis on grapes: "File:Botrytis-vigne-grappe.jpg" by Stllchang is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

 

In terms of pairing, there are so many ideas that many don’t consider when thinking of Sauternes. Although foie gras is classic, the wine goes well with roasted chicken with thyme and herbs, oysters and seafood dishes, especially lobster and crab, spicy food with some sweetness (especially sweet and sour Chinese dishes, Indian dishes with heat and sweet, and Thai curries). Blue cheese and other salty cheeses are great, and Sauternes or Barsac should definitely be on the table for the Thanksgiving turkey – adding moisture, acidity, and sweetness to the mix. Traditionally, Sauternes and Barsac are also served as aperitifs, cold and as a welcome to guests as they come in (similar to Champagne).

Sauternes was part of the 1855 Classification of Bordeaux wines – they were the only whites ranked. There were 27 Cru Classes, 11 First Growths, 15 Second Growths, and Château d’ Yquem  at the top of the ranking – a Premier Cru Supérieur.

 

Among these topics, we discuss the business of Sauternes, the decline in planting and sales, and do an overview of Chåteau d’Yquem, the most famed sweet wine in the world.

Ch d'Yquem, photo credit: Benjamin Zingg, SWZ, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

We mention other top Château:

In Barsac: Château Climens, Château Coutet, Château Doisey Daëne

In Sauternes: Château Guiraud, Clos Haut-Peyraguey, Château Rabaud-Promis (underrated), Château Sigalas-Rabaud, Château Rieussec, and more.

 

A great deep dive into this interesting, classic region, this podcast gives you another tool to be well-rounded in wine!

 

HUGE Credit to Jane Anson's spectacular "Inside Bordeaux" book for making the research easy and fun! 

__________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

 

Wine Access     

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Apr 05, 2021
Ep 368: Michael Dhillon of Bindi Wines, Icon of Australia's Boutique Wineries
01:02:08

Michael Dhillon of Bindi Wines is one of the most famous winemakers in Australia. Bindi is a 170 hectare farm of which 7 hectares are planted to Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Michael Dhillon had gained renown through his beautiful wines which show balance and purity in the expression of Bindi's individual vineyard sites.

Famous winemaker and writer James Halliday writes of Michael: “One of the icons of Macedon. The Chardonnay is top-shelf, the Pinot Noir as remarkable (albeit in a very different idiom) as Bass Phillip, Giaconda or any of the other tiny-production, icon wines. The addition of Heathcote- sourced Shiraz under the Pyrette label confirms Bindi as one of the greatest small producers in Australia.”

https://www.visitmacedonranges.comImage from https://www.visitmacedonranges.com

The area of Macedon Ranges has dramatic mountains and those high elevations translate to cool climates. Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Shiraz, and sparkling wine are the specialties of the region. Most of the wines are made by family-owned producers who make small amounts of wine. Among them is Bindi 

In the show, the articulate, passionate Michael Dhillon joins us to introduce this magical region, and tell us about his wines, which many think are the best of Australia. 

 

Here is a list of Bindi's wines:

You can get Bindi Wine in the US from www.wineworksonline.com (send them an email if the wines are not up on the site and they can get them for you if you reference the podcast -- I don't make money off the wines, they are helping us out! )

__________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

Wine Access     

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

Mar 29, 2021
Ep 367: Chardonnay -- The Grape Miniseries Refresh
57:58

In this show we take another look at the regal Chardonnay grape and talk about how it has changed over the years. This is a refresh of a previous show done years ago, so we cover everything we do in a normal grape mini-series. Once you get to know Chardonnay, you realize what a chameleon it really is and how important it is to understand place and producer to get the styles that you like.

Here are some brief show notes (with special focus on writing out regions that you may not have caught while listening)!

 

  • Chardonnay originated in Burgundy, and is a cross of Pinot Noir and Gouais Blanc. In the vineyard it is early budding and ripening, so frost can be an issue, however it grows very well on a multitude of soils and growers the world around love it for how it takes to most sites. Powdery mildew, coulure (shatter), and rot can cause a headache in the vineyard but with more than 28 clones to choose from, growers can pick what is best for their site.

 

  • The variety does different things in different climates – it has lower alcohol and higher acidities with mineral and citrus aromas and flavors in cool climates and is tropical, fruity, and full bodied with low acidity in warmer climates. Soils make a difference too – well drained soils are best. Limestone is generally considered the best type for Chardonnay with bits of clay and marl to give the wines dimension, but there are lots of different soils that yield beautiful wines from Chardonnay. Drainage and low yields make a world of difference with this grape too.

  • Chardonnay is a non-aromatic, generally neutral grape that can take on flavors from the vineyard or be a blank canvas on which winemakers show their skills. The grape can and does express terroir, as we see in places like Burgundy, its homeland, but often it is subjected to full malo-lactic fermentation (yielding buttered popcorn notes), oak aging in a high proportion of new, heavily toasted barrels (vanilla, caramel, butterscotch, smoke/char), and battonnage (stirring of the dead yeast cells or lees, to create bready, toasty, yeasty notes in the wine).

 

  • Chardonnay is ideal for sparkling wine. In cool climates it is floral with low acidity and brings a lightness and elegance to sparkling wines. Champagne, with its long aging on the lees (sur lie, dead yeast cells – basic Champagne is aged this way for at least 12 months, vintage Champagne 30 months and the Tete de Cuvee, the best Champagnes, even longer), has shown us the changes that can occur with this contact over time –amino acids, peptides, proteins, and fatty acids for to add aromas and flavors like hazelnuts and honey.

 

 

Old World

Burgundy

  • Chablis: Steely, minerally wines that are a great expression of the grape. Affordable Grand Cru
  • Côte de Beaune: The most age worthy and famed Chardonnay in the world.
    • Grand cru vineyards that straddle the towns of Puligny-Montrachet and Chassagne-Montrachet: Le Montrachet, Chevalier-Montrachet, Bâtard-Montrachet, Criots-Bâtard-Montrachet, Bienvenues-Bâtard-Montrachet
    • Corton-Charlemagne
  • Côte Chalonnaise
  • Mâconnais: Pouilly-Fuisse is good and improving

Champagne: Blanc de Blancs is pure Chardonnay

 

Other France:

  • Loire: Used in Crémant and the white blends of Saumur, Anjoy, Touraine
  • Jura (as we call it, Bizarro Burgundy)
  • Languedoc-Roussillon: most Chardonnay is bulk and is bottled under Vins de Pays d'Oc
    • Limoux: Does sparkling Crémant de Limoux, barrel-fermented still wine.

Italy

  • Often mixed in with Pinot Bianco in the northeast areas -- Alto Adige, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia
  • Franciacorta: Used in this fine sparkling wine of Lombardy
  • Piedmont: Excellent Chardonnay when it’s not too oaky

 

Other Old World Spots

  • Spain: Used in Cava as a small proportion of the blend, used in some other white blends
  • Austria and Switzerland
  • Eastern Europe: Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Croatia
  • Israel
  • England: Excellent in sparkling, more varietal wine being made

_________________________________________ 

New World

United States

  • California: Most important variety
    • Napa: Carneros, Russian River
    • Sonoma: Sonoma Coast, Petaluma Gap, Russian River
    • Central Coast: Santa Barbara (my favorite region), Santa Lucia Highlands,
    • Mendocino: Anderson Valley
    • Central Valley: BULK
  • Washington State: Lots of fruit, maybe less MLF
  • Oregon: The one to watch in the U.S.
  • NY State: Finger Lakes and Long Island
  • Virginia: Linden, Pollak make especially good versions

 

Canada: Niagara, BC

 

Australia

  • New South Wales: Hunter Valley – tropical, fruity, buttery, opulent
  • Victoria: Yarra, Mornington Peninsula, Macedon Ranges – lighter, more acidic wine with good terroir expression
  • South Australia: Eden Valley, Adelaide Hills, nice, still oaky sometimes
  • Margaret River: Can be complex, fruity, good acidity
  • Tasmania: Delicate to complex, good acidity, used in sparkling

 

New Zealand: Ripeness with Acidity, nice herbal character often, excellent from Hawkes Bay where the styles are fatter, to Martinborough, and to Canterbury where the acidity is pronounced.

 

Chile

  • Casablanca Valley: Ripeness with acidity, not much oak or malolactic fermentation
  • Leyda, San Antonio: Similar to Casablanca
  • Other cool regions: Limarí, Bío Bío and Itata Valleys

 

Argentina

  • Very much like California Chardonnay. Promising in cooler, higher vineyards - Tupungato. 

 

South Africa – hot, except in Walker Bay

  • Walker Bay, Elgin: Soft with mineral and nut notes
  • Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl: Fuller, can have a lot of oak 

 

Aging

  • Top Chardonnays can age and need the age: 30 years is not unheard of from great producers of Grands Crus. With Premiers Crus – more like 20 years is appropriate. Village – within 8-10 yrs.
  • New World wines generally age for less time, but the length of aging depends on the producer and the area

 

Flavor: We discuss the difference between primary and secondary flavors and how knowing the difference can help point you to styles you prefer:

  • Primary flavors from the grape:
    • Cooler sites: lemon, chalk, minerals, flint, green apple, citrus, pears, grapefruit (higher acidities, lower alcohols, lighter bodied)
    • Warmer sites: baked apple, pineapple, guava, melon (also fuller bodied, lower acidity, higher alcohol)
  • Secondary flavors from winemaking:
    • Oak notes: Smoke, toast, spice, coconut, vanilla, cinnamon, butterscotch, caramel
    • Malolactic fermentation: buttered popcorn, clotted cream
    • Sur lie aging: toast, nuttiness, yeasty notes
  • Serving temperature effects the flavor. I prefer it a little cooler than is often recommended: 48˚-50˚/9˚-10˚C is what I prefer, although many recommend 55˚F/12.8˚C

 

___________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

Wine Access     

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

Mar 22, 2021
Ep 366: Riccardo Sobrino of Cascina Delle Rose, The Toast of Barbaresco's Boutique Producers
01:10:41

Riccardo Sobrino, of Cascina delle Rose, runs a small estate in Barbaresco that produces elegant, perfumed and complex wines and has been in his family for more than 70 years. This 5 ha/12 acre vineyard is a family operation – he and his brother inherited the property from their parents, who are still involved in major decisions of the winery.

 

Cascina delle Rose was started by Riccardo’s mother, Giovanna Rizzolio, in 1992 on this ideal site – steep vineyards with calcareous soils on the Tre Stelle vineyard side and clay soils on the Rio Sordo side to yield two equally wonderful but very different Barbarescos. Since its inception, Giovanna insisted on biodiversity, organic viticulture, and making wines that represent the elegance and grace. Made to highlight terroir, these wines represent the elegance and grace that is inherent to the wines of this region.

Photo: Courtesy Cascina delle Rose, Riccardo is second from the right

The estate is run by Davide, Riccardo’s older brother and Riccardo, who I welcome and who I have had an opportunity to visit and learn from in the vineyards and in the winery.

 

In the show we cover:

  • The history of Barbaresco and of Riccardo’s family in the area
  • We discuss his AWESOME mother, Giovanna Rizzolio, who saved up money working at a job she hated in textiles to buy the winery from her family and create outstanding wines that she made working in concert with the land. Riccardo shares her story and what it was like to be a woman in the early 1990s owning a winery on her own (hint: she is amazing)
  • Riccardo talks about the roles everyone in his family plays in the business – his brother as head of the vineyards, Riccardo as a co-winemaker and businessman.

 

Barbaresco

  • Riccardo gives us an excellent view into the terroir of Barbaresco, the MGA system and then we go into detail on his beautiful vineyards, Rio Sordo (heavier soils, a bit bolder in flavor) and Tre Stelle (lighter soils, a bit more elegant in style). Riccardo teaches us about the importance of aspect, elevation, slope, and soil – it’s a great dork out and so well explained.



  • We discuss, in detail, the differences between Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Dolcetto. And how Riccardo and Davide work hard in the vineyard to achieve the elegance that typifies Cascina delle Rose.

We wrap with a very useful discussion of how long to age Barbaresco (we both prefer it around 10-15 years, but agree it’s personal preference) and Riccardo gives us his word that tradition at Cascina delle Rose, is sacrosanct, so we can expect these wines to stay in their beautiful style for years to come.

Photo: Courtesy Cascina delle Rose, View of property

___________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

Wine Access     

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

Mar 16, 2021
Ep 365: Vins Doux Naturels -- the Underrated, Elegant Wines of Southern France
44:12

Vins doux naturels (VDNs), translated to ‘naturally sweet wines’, are some of the most historic yet underestimated wines in France. These wines are made using the process of mutage – adding neutral grape spirit/alcohol – to fermenting wine in order to halt fermentation and leave sugar in the wine (they aren’t REALLY naturally sweet wine, although producers will say you are preserving the natural sweetness of the wine so that’s the counterpoint).

Image of Rivesaltes: WinesoftheRoussillon.com

The technique of mutage was created in Roussillon in 1285 by Arnaud de Villeneuve, physician of the Royal House of Barcelona from 1281 to 1310 and a professor of the University of Montpellier. It is the same process used to make Port. Here the wine must be around 6% alcohol by volume when grape spirit is added to kill the yeast and bring the alcohol in the wine to 15-18% ABV. Wines retain sugar and this base wine can go many different directions depending on what the producer wants to present in the bottle.

Although these wines can be made with more than 20 different grape varieties, two take primacy: Muscat blanc à petit grains for the white and Grenache noir for the red.

  • Grenache is great as a young wine but can also be good if aged for years in old oak barrels, sometimes large glass jars (called bonbonnes or demi-johns) developing complexity and tertiary aromas (tobacco, saddle, mocha)
  • Muscat has fresh, grapey aromas, and naturally high acidity so the resulting sweet wines are very balanced. These grapes get more flavor and color if the producer wants to put the juice in contact with the skins and, like the reds, they can also be aged oxidatively

 

Vins Doux Naturels of the Languedoc

We begin the show in the Languedoc, which only produces white vins doux naturels (VDNs) of the Muscat grape. Each of these wines is made from Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains and made in a non oxidative style to show the ripe fruit flavors, honeyed notes and richness contrasting with the acidity of the grape. Here are the four VDN appellations of the Languedoc, all of which are fortified with neutral grape spirit to 15% - 18% alcohol and a minimum of 11% residual sugar (Saint Jean de Minervois has a minimum of 12.5% RS). These wines are all golden in color and made of white grapes:

 

  • Muscat de Saint Jean de Minervois: Vineyards are at elevation so the wines have a better balance of acidity, more elegance, and are more complex
  • Muscat de Frontignan: the biggest area for VdN in the Languedoc, these wines range in quality but Frontignan has great historic importance as it probably contains France’s earliest vineyard sites and was certainly the country’s first VdN appellation
  • Muscat de Lunel is small and the local co-op makes many of the wines. The best have floral honeyed notes
  • Muscat de Mireval is right next to the coast, immediately northeast of Frontignan and the wines, dominated by co-op production are rarely seen outside of France

 

Vins Doux Naturels of Roussillon

Roussillon was incorporated into France in 1659, but before that was part of Spain, which it borders. There is a very set Catalan influence in this area, which is a hybrid of Spanish and French culture in many ways. Roussillon is shaped like an amphitheater and borders the Mediterranean Sea, the Pyrenees & the Corbières Mountains. This sunniest region of France has rivers which shape the landscape and the terroir.

 

Roussillon is the epicenter of vins doux naturels, making 80% of all VDN. It makes white, and more interestingly, reds whose flavors you will not find anywhere else. After mutage, the VdNs are made reductively (like regular wine where you try to avoid contact with oxygen to maintain fresh flavors) or oxidatively, with exposure to air for varying lengths of time. On the wines of the Roussillon you will see the following labels:

 

  • Wines that are aged without oxygen (topped off barrels/reductive) and are fruity and strong:
    • Blanc
    • Rosé
    • Rimage (used for Banyuls)
    • Grenat (used for Maury, Rivesaltes)
    • If they have a bit of age but are still reductive you will may see recolté or vendange on the bottle
  • Wines that are aged oxidatively in barrels that are not topped off, thus concentrating flavors and giving the wines more character (similar to tawny Port, rosé is never aged this way, BTW)
    • Ambré: Whites that are oxidatively aged
    • Tuilé: Reds that are oxidatively aged
    • Rancio: VERY rare category of wine. Either whites or reds aged for so long that they taste almost like Madeira. They are aged in glass bonbonnes/demi-Johns that are kept outside or in attics to gain exposure to the temperature extremes to intensify flavor
    • Hors d’Age: Anything aged more than 5 years before release, normally oxidatively aged

Vins Doux Naturel aging in bonbonnes Image Source: Vig'nette

 

 

Roussillon Wines/Areas

 Muscat de Rivesaltes can be made two Muscat varieties blended in varying ratios:

  • Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains (blend must be at least 50%) which contributes aromas of tropical, citrus fruits (lemon)
  • Muscat of Alexandria which offers aromas and flavors of flowers, herbs (mint) and peaches
  • The wine mellows over time to have honeyed, baked fruit flavors

 

Rivesaltes is France's largest sweet-wine appellation, in terms of area and volume. Rivesaltes wines are blends or single varieties. Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Grenache Noir and Macabeu are the main grapes used

  • When made from white varieties they can be Rivesaltes Ambré (nutty and caramelized), rancio (Madeira-like, baked notes) or Hors d’Age (aged 5+ years)
  • Rivesaltes Rosé is a fresh, fruity wine made mainly of Grenache Noir. It is aged reductively
  • Rivesaltes Rouge is made mainly of Grenache Noir. It can be Grenat (reductive), Tuilé (oxidative) and for rare bottles, rancio and hors d’age when oxidatively aged

 

 

Maury Doux is in northern Roussillon on steep limestone cliffs at the beginning of the Pyrenees foothills. Maury's vins doux naturels are produced mainly from the Grenache grape varieties.

  • Maury Blanc is made with mainly Grenache Blanc and Grenache Gris and aged reductively. There are oxidative versions -- Maury Ambré and Hors d’Age
  • Maury Rouge is made with a minimum of 75% Grenache noir with Grenache Blanc, Gris, Carignan, Syrah, Macabeu (max 10%). Similar to Rivesaltes, there are Grenat, Tuilé, hors d’age, and rancio versions. Wines labeled with récoltevendangeor vintage must have aged a minimum of 12 months in an airtight environment, making them a nonoxidative style of VDN.

Image of Maury: WinesoftheRoussillon.com

 

Banyuls is one of the world's very few fortified red wines. Its best sites are on steep slopes or narrow terraces facing the sea. All Banyuls are made mainly from Grenache grapes of various colors.

  • Banyuls Rouge is required to be at least 50% Grenache Noir. These wines are the best pairings with all manner of chocolate. These classifications are different from Rivesaltes and Maury
    • Rimage is aged reductively and bottled early. It has black fruit and chocolate flavors
    • Rimage Mis Tardive is Rimage that is aged for 1-3 years
    • Banyuls Tuilé, rancio, and hors d’age are aged oxidatively
  • Banyuls Blanc is made with Grenache blanc and Grenache Gris. It can be ambré, rancio, and hors d’age
  • Banyuls Rosé is young and fresh, made of Grenache Noir and reductive

Banyuls Grand Cru is at least 75% Grenache that is aged for a minimum of 30 months in oak – so all are slightly oxidized. They can be labeled dry/sec/brut (all are ok to use) as long as it has <5% sugar

 

Vins Doux Naturels of the Rhône

  • Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise Vin Doux Naturel is made only of Muscat à Petit Grains Blanc and Muscat Noir. Mutage brings it to a minimum of 15% alcohol. It is sweet, white, rich, but with a floral delicacy.

 

  • Rasteau has become an important dry red wine cru of the southern Rhône but this area also makes VDN in small quantities. The wines must be at least 90% Grenache Noir, Grenache Gris, Grenache Blanc. The VDNs are mostly red but some white and rosé also made. All are best consumed young.
  • Reds: Grenat, tuilé, hors d’age, rancio
  • Whites: Blanc, ambré

Rasteau AOC: Image from Vins-Rhone

At minimum I hope you try Banyuls with some chocolate or the Muscat of your choice with fruit or nut tart or your crème brûlée. They make every meal complete and are such a bargain for what they are!

 

___________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

Wine Access     

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

Mar 08, 2021
Ep 364: The High-End World of Rare Wines with Dave Parker of Benchmark Wines
01:00:11

In this episode I welcome David Parker, CEO and Founder of Benchmark Wine Group , which is the largest online seller of fine and rare wines for wine retailers, restaurants and collectors worldwide. Benchmark does auction, retail, wholesale and import. 

Dave is an unusual guest for us in that he specializes in a part of the market that most of us, as normal wine people, know nothing about -- fine and rare (and VERY expensive) wine! He is a great guest and openly shares everything from how Benchmark procures wine to how they ensure the wines are authentic (provenance) to the important things to know about collectible wine, should you decide to dip into this world.

 

As a bonus, David tells us about the Rudy Kurniawan scandal (he knew Rudy!) and he shares great information about how the market works to keep that kind of fraud out of rare wine. 

 

As an important program note: I do need to thank the Patrons for encouraging me to have Dave on as a guest and for providing some great questions for this interview. If you are interested in becoming a Patron to have opportunities like this and to take part in other exclusive conversations, you can join for as little as US$20 per year!

Here are the show notes:

  • Dave tells us how Benchmark sources wine, how the wine is evaluated and what makes it a good candidate for his portfolio.

 

  • We discuss provenance/authenticity guarantees, fraud, and how they ensure the wines are in great condition when Benchmark buys them. We discuss the sources of these wines -- from restaurants to private collectors and how Benchmark knows exactly what will work for them. 

"Bordeaux Wines at Fareham Wine Cellar" by Fareham Wine is licensed under CC BY 2.0

  • Dave tells us how to begin investing in wine – the types of things people should collect, what you need to start a collection, and how wines become collectible over time. I ask him if these wines are actually worth the money (and he gives a diplomatic answer!)

 

  • Finally, Dave tells us what makes a wine age-worthy and we have a discussion about tariffs and what that may do to the rare wine market.

 

If you're interested in learning more or starting somewhere, check out Benchmark's site. They have a guarantee of quality, so if you decide to invest it's less risky. 

___________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

Wine Access     

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

Mar 01, 2021
Ep 363: The Personal Side of Loire with Serge Dore Importer
01:00:08

Serge Doré, importer of French wine (and American via Quebec…he’s a man of many identities and a worldliness we can only aspire to!) and popular podcast regular, joins us to talk about the Loire Valley. Serge has been visiting the Loire since 1985 and has seen its evolution over the decades. He joins to give us the world of Loire from his perspective, humanize it with stories of producers he imports and some he has just met, and tell us what we can expect from this sometime confusing but wonderfully beautiful and diverse French wine region (for those of you interested in tariffs and how they are affecting business, the last 5 minutes of the pod is also devoted to that topic!).

Here are the notes:

  1. Serge takes us through the main Loire regions. We being in Muscadet/the Pay Nantais. We discuss how far the wine has come in the last 20 years, and what good quality it is now. Serge says it reminds him of a ripe honeydew melon, so the grape name is fitting (the grape is called Melon de Bourgogne). He mentions Domaine Bouchaud whose wines he imports. I mention Domaine Louvetrie as an example of a very rocky, flinty Muscadet.

  1. We talk about Anjou and the lovely Chenin Blanc here. We focus first on Savennières, and then discuss the sweet wines of Quarts de Chaume, Coteaux de Layon, and others in the area. Serge talks about his early experiences with these stunning, yet rare wines.

 

  1. We take a side trip to Sancerre. Serge confirms my hypothesis that Sancerre can sell all day long, but that Pouilly-Fumé has no takers! I mention the great Didier Dageneau and his Silex wine.

 

  1. We discuss the marketing issue for Loire – namely that they don’t know how to do it! I fell that Anjou blanc and rouge, as well as Saumur blanc and rouge are generally generic and don’t taste great. Serge explains that most growers sell to negociants and co-ops who make seas of blah wines that aren’t from specific areas. The result: Rouge and Blanc from these parts are hard to pin down from a style perspective.

 

  1. Serge loves Saumur- Champigny – a Cabernet Franc that is light, fruity, lower in alcohol but has great earthy notes. Thierry Germain is the master and is imported by Kermit Lynch. I say I have found it to be hit or miss. Serge reminds me: it’s all about producer.

 

  1. Serge talks about why Touraine is the upcoming region of France and has been for a few years. He cites climate change as making a big difference for the ripeness levels and flavors for Touraine. 2015 was the big shift in the wines.

    We mention my new favorite Chinon and St. Nicholas de Bourgueil: Pascal et Alain Lourieux (available on Wine Access). Serge tells us stories about how absolutely focused these brothers are on the vineyard to get the results they do. The story is funny and amazing.

  1. Ahhh, Vouvray! It’s a frustrating topic. Serge tells us about how hard it is to sell because of its many styles and we return to one of the themes of the Loire: superb wines, no marketing savvy. The wine of Serge’s that I love is Domaine Bourillon Dorléans “La Coulee d’Argent”. It had some age (which I think Vouvray really needs) and was very flinty, with lemon curd and vanilla notes – tasty! Serge tells us stories of Fred Bourillon, his family and his wine. We briefly discuss the top dog of Vouvray, Domain Huet who makes outstanding, consistent Vouvray.

Source: jamesonf- https://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesonfink/5147142662/
Vouvray AOC moelleux Domaine Huet 1985

  1. Serge tells us about the terroir of Sancerre and the three soil types that make it stunning:
  • Les Caillottes
  • Flint/Silex
  • Terre Blanche – Clay

 

  1. We discuss the importance of climate and how the two different climates, which switch off at Amboise from maritime influenced to continental, divide the Loire. Slope, breezes, river effects – all the dorkiness is in this section of the conversation.

 

  1. Serge and I muse about how natural wine may be a bit overhyped by the media where the Loire is concerned. Low intervention/traditional winemaking is the order of the day with the reds and Chenin however, Serge doesn’t hear producers talk about it.

 

  1. Finally, we discuss the issues around tariffs and why they are so destructive for the wine industry in the US.

I love Serge,having him on is such a pleasure. Check out his site to see his selection of wines. 

___________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

Feb 22, 2021
Ep 362: The Grape Miniseries -- Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio)
01:02:19

Of the many grapes that we have covered in this series, possibly the hardest to define is the one in this show -- Pinot Gris. It's so complex in part because it goes by many names and can taste neutral and boring to oily, powerful, and bold with notes of smoke, ginger, and spice. It can be bone dry to amazingly sweet and can be powderpuff or very serious in quality.

 

Whatever the incarnation, wine drinkers lap it up! In the U.S., Pinot Grigio (the Italian style) is the second most-consumed wine behind Chardonnay, according to Impact Databank (the sister publication to Wine Spectator). But it's not just the US that loves this wine, it's growing like mad in Australia too. 

 

In this show, we discuss the many sides of Pinot Gris, or Pinot Grigio, or Grauburgunder or whatever you want to call it! Here are the show notes:

 

We first discuss the grape itself:

  • Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio, Grauburgunder, or Rulander are all the same grape and all are mutations of Pinot Noir, so similar to their parent that the only thing that is different is the color of the grape after veraision
  • Pinot Gris is one of the darkest skinned grapes that makes white. It's fruit is gray-blue fruit but can be brown- pink,  white or deep purple. As a result, the finished wine can have a copper tinge or be light pink 
  • The adjective gris is French for "gray" and the grape is named so because it has a grayish look to it. The gray name is used everywhere and has been adapted to local culture: Italian (grigio), German (grauer), Slovenian (sivi) and Czech (sede)
  • Pinot Gris is thin skinned and does well in cool to moderate climates with very long growing seasons.
  • Picking decision is essential to the wine's character for every wine but with Pinot Gris, it will determine whether it is insipid and neutral (picked early) or rich with higher alcohol, lower acidity and rich, full flavors like pears, apples, apricot, tropical fruit, ginger, spices, smoke, and mineral

"Pinot Grigio prior to harvest, vintage 2012" by stefano lubiana wines 
is licensed under CC BY 2.0

 

We discuss some general ideas about winemaking

  • There is a sharp distinction between early picked Pinot Grigio (the Italian style) and full bodied, rich and flavorful Pinot Gris (the Alsace, France style)
  • Most cheap Pinot Grigio, in particular, is picked, fermented and brought to market quickly -- it is a cash cow
  • Pinot Grigio styles rarely use oak, but Pinot Gris (French style) often use older, neutral barrels for fermentation to give the wines texture. These styles also go through sur lie aging to give more texture to the wine 

The Growing regions and their styles:

Pinot Gris/Grigio is grown in: France, Italy, New Zealand, Australia, Austria, Germany, Romania, Canada, the U.S., Hungary, Switzerland, Russia, Moldova, China

_____________________________________________

Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio Around the world

Alsace, France

  • Pinot Gris is 16 % of production in Alsace
  • The grape thrives in the dry, sunny climate, with its long autumns. Yields are kept quite low and the best sites are the Grand Cru sites designated for Pinot Gris
  • Alsace Pinot Gris is layered and bold with honey, ginger, spice, and bold apricot and sometimes tropical fruit notes. It can be picked late harvest (Vendanges Tardive) or allowed to develop botrytis (noble rot) that changes the wines into unctuous, full dessert wines.
  • Occasionally these wines are oak-aged for texture, some are more medium bodied, many have residual sugar, so you must check the producer's style and web site to see how sweet the wine is
  • These wines, in the past, were substitutes for red wines and accordingly, go with fuller food
  • Top producers in Alsace: Albrecht, Blanck, Marcel Deiss, Dopff & Irion, Kuentz-Bas, Albert Mann, René Muré, Schlumberger, Trimbach

Italy

  • Growing in Veneto, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, and Trentino Alto Adige, along with a few other northern areas (Valle d'Aosta) the Italian style is always picked a bit early and has an emphasis on dry, mineral flavors
  • Unlike Alsace, where grapes develop over a long season, in Italy the goal is to harvest grapes early, and to have high yields. The result of this overcropping is dilution of flavor and a high acid wine that doesn't reflect the true character of the grape. Many experts charge that much of the Pinot Grigio planted in large vineyards is actually Pinot Bianco or even Trebbiano Toscano
  • In the winery, stainless steel tanks are used and the wine is fermented and bottled quickly but the better wines can have light oak-ageing or skin contact
  • Cheap Pinot Grigio has very little flavor or character. It is cheap and cheerful and nothing else. 
  • In Alto Adige -world-class Pinot Grigios from estate bottling are expensive but lead to nuttier, fruitier flavors that are recognizable as related to Pinot Gris. Producers include: Elena Walch, Franz Haas, Tiefenbruner, San Michele Appiano, Sanct Valentin Pinot Grigio, Alois Lageder, Cantina Terlano
  • In Friuli, Isonzo has full, tropical notes and the cooler areas of Collio and Colli Orientali produce more saline, spicy, and mineral wines that can have a spritz to them. Lis Neris, Vie di Romans, Dessimis, and Marco Felluga are good producers
  • In Valle d’Aosta, experts see high potential for these Pinot Gris to be the best in Italy – frequently mentioned by critics is Lo Triolet di Marco Martin, called Pinot Gris rather than Pinot Grigio

Germany

  • Germany ranks third in the world for Grauburgunder production. Most of that is in Rheinhessen, the Pfalz, and Baden
  • These wines tend to be lower in alcohol, higher in acidity and more mineral-driven that Alsace versions with floral, citrusy notes. All versions are made -- sparkling, dry, off-dry, and late harvest and botrytized sweet wine
  • My favorite producer is Müller-Catoir from Pfalz

 In Europe, Pinot Gris is made in...

  • Burgundy – some people still use it
  • Loire, where it's called Malvoisie
  • Switzerland, where it has floral notes and a soft texture
  • Luxembourg, where the wines are fuller
  • Slovenia, which specializes in Pinot Grigio with skin contact These skin contact wines only use a bit of contact (24 – 48 hours of skin contact is common) to give Pinot Grigio flavor without stripping the essence of the grape
  • Other places:  Austria, Romania, Croatia, Hungary

 

New World

New Zealand

  • Pinot Gris is the more like the Alsace version with a medium body and flavors like apple, pear, honeysuckle, spice, and toast
  • On the North Island, especially from Hawkes Bay and Gisbourne, you'll find ripe full, oily styles of Pinot Gris
  • On the South Island, the volume is large in Marlborough where the wines have spicy and structure but they shine when from North Canterbury. 
  • Good producers include: Seresin, Greywacke, Jules Taylor

 

The United States

  • California grows a lot of Pinot Grigio but mostly for use in jug wine or cheap "California" appellate wine. Most grows in the hot Central Valley. it is not a focus for most producers
  • Oregon is the real hotspot in the US for Pinot Gris. the area has long, moderate summer days with cooling breezes. It has a longer fall which allows Pinot Gris the space it needs to develop flavor. These wines taste like fresh cut apple, pear, underripe melon, and can be medium bodied, occasionally with oak notes
    Bigger Producers include: King Estate (the largest Pinot Gris producer), A to Z, Erath, Adelsheim, Ponzi, and Rainstorm 

 

Canada -- British Columbia 

  • 21.2% of the white wine crop in 2018, makes Pinot Gris the Queen of the whites in BC. I recall it being very serviceable to good

 

Australia

  • Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris -- the names and styles are used at will is one of the hottest, fastest growing wines
  • There are no style rules or naming conventions. The wines vary from acidic and light (Italian style) to bold and full (Alsace style). Producers often call full styles Pinot Grigio and light styles Pinot Gris. There is no convention.
  • We mention Kathleen Quealy and Kevin McCarthy of T'Gallant Wines in the Mornington Peninsula of Victoria. Kathleen Quealy was named the ‘Queen of Pinot Grigio’ back then and she still makes wine under her own label today

 

It's a lot to take in! Who would have thought that something I call alcoholic lemon water (in it's Grigio incarnation) would be so complex! 

 

___________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

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Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
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Feb 16, 2021
Ep 361: Food and Wine Pairings that Inspire Love
36:11

In the tradition of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and fertility, after which aphrodisiacs are named, we give you a list of 12+ foods that inspire love and passion, and the wines to match. Date night just got more exciting!! You can let us know if any of these actually work.

William Blake Richmond, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Here's the list of the top 14 aphrodisiac foods and the wines to pair with them:

1. Watermelon is rich in L-citrulline, an amino acid that helps improve blood flow. Like Viagra, L-citrulline increases blood flow to the sexual organs but without any negative side effects! 

Put it in a salad with feta and arugula (rocket, also and aphrodisiac so you get a double hit of spice in your life).

Wine: Spanish rosé. I like a Monastrell-based wine because it's bolder and fruitier than some other Spanish versions, and you need that fruit to stand up to the flavors in this tasty but sweet, bitter, and salty salad. You can use a California rosé too, but Pinot Noir may be too light so get something a bit bolder and made from a different grape. 

 

2. Salmon (and other cold water fish like herring, anchovies, sardines) has lots of omega-3s, which encourage good moods, good skin, good brainpower and a good sex drive! 

Since salmon can be prepared in so many different ways, we give a few wine ideas:

  • Raw salmon (sashimi or tartare) goes well with a dry rosé (here you can use a Provence rosé) or Albariño from Rias Baixas, Spain
  • Salmon in a butter sauce (beurre blanc): A slightly oaked Chardonnay like a white Burgundy or an Oregon Pinot Gris could work
  • Grilled salmon: New Zealand Pinot Noir or St. Amour from Beaujolais would be fantastic
  • Blackened salmon: Zinfandel but make sure it's not over-the-top (Here's the wine I said should be the standard for all CA Zin: Nalle Estate Old Vines Zinfandel) 

 

3. Oysters. Both because they are thought to resemble certain female body parts and because Romans in the 2nd century AD claimed that women had much prowess after eating them, oysters have become the standard for aphrodisiac food. 

Wine: If you like the magnification of salt, go for a Chablis, Muscadet, Albariño, or Champagne. If you dislike that, stick with a Bordeaux Blanc or a Côte du Rhône blanc, both of which have lower acidity so it won't make the oysters seem quite as salty. 

 

4. Asparagus. Well M.C. Ice had ALL sorts of issues with this one, but it's on all the lists I've found, so it has to make ours too. Another food that is all about increasing and maintaining sex drive, both its intrinsic properties and its "interesting" shape contribute to its effectiveness. M.C. Ice was grossed out by the smell factor and the shape argument really made him squirm. 

 

5. Avocado. 

This one comes from the Aztecs. They called the avocado tree "ahuacuatl." That means "testicle tree", because the avocados hang in pairs off the branches, so...yeah.

Wine:  Avocado is great alone or in salads, sandwiches, or with Mexican. If you are having Haas avocados, the most popular type in the U.S., you'll notice they are both creamy and nutty. What's a wine that's creamy and nutty? One of my favorite whites: Fiano di Avellino, which has a lovely almond or hazelnut finish. Arneis from Piedmont could work too. 

 

6. Carrot and ginger soup.  Here we go again with the shape thing... but carrots also have beta carotene and lots of other good for you vitamins, which Middle Easterners believed aided in making people more attractive.

Ginger is spicy and it helps get your blood flowing. It also tastes delicious when combined with carrots in a soup! 

Wine: If you're having roasted carrots (and other dishes that will fit this) you can easily pair them with a red like Côtes-du-Rhône or another Grenache-based wine that will be moderate enough to stand up to char but let the carroty flavor shine through. 

If you take our suggestion of the soup (and add coriander, which we mention is known to increase sexual appetite), you'll have a trifecta of goodness that will pair well with Alsace Riesling or a Viognier from California or from the northern Rhône. 

 

7. Truffles. I'm not talking about the chocolate kind. I'm talking about the rare kind found in the Piedmont of Italy that Greeks and Romans both claimed the musky scent of truffles made people's skin more sensitive and that's a good thing for a healthy love life.

Wine: Slightly older Barolo or Barbaresco (also from Piedmont) is a perfect fit for the earthy, barnyard, mushroom note of truffles. Especially if the truffles are with red meat, bolder versions of these Nebbiolo-based wines will be perfect matches. 

If you are having risotto or pasta with truffles, have Fiano di Avellino from Campania, or a bold white from the Rhône. I would steer clear of fruity, young wine for this pairing. 

 

8. Fennel. The ancient Greeks found this vegetable which is like a celery, licorice mash-up (both also alleged aphrodisiacs), to be a real labido enhancer. Maybe it's because it has plant estrogen in it! 

Wine: If you are have a steak with roasted fennel or a soup or stew with a fennel base, a great Northern Rhône Syrah or a more subtle California Syrah will be an excellent pairing. The flavors of a Syrah -- the rich fruit, the black pepper, and the spice will be great with the fennel notes. 

For lighter style fennel dishes like vegetarian soups with a fennel base or chicken with a fennel cream sauce, a white Rioja or a slightly oaky Chardonnay can each hold their flavor and structure against the strong celery/licorice notes well.

 

9. Figs. Like oysters, when cut open, figs allegedly resemble a female body part and for that reason they have always been considered a food for the amorous. Because having them on their own presents a tough wine pairing challenge we recommend having them with a little cheese -- goat, feta or especially blue with counter some of that natural sweetness. 

Wine: If you take the idea of having figs with cheese for your date night appetizer or tapas, you are going to need a very fruity, bold red to pair. Zinfandel, or southern Italian wines like Nero d'Avola, Primitivo (Zinfandel), and Negro Amaro can take on both the sweetness of the figs and the salty, penicillin-like note of the blue cheese. A slightly sweet tawny or ruby Port could also do the trick quite well.

 

10. Pesto (the aphrodisiac trifecta). Basil produces a sense of well-being and boosts fertility. Garlic spices up your desires. Pine nuts have zinc, which increases male potency. Put them together and bam! the most love enhancing potion there is. 

 

Wine: Pesto comes from Liguria, right near the Piedmont region of northwest Italy. Cortese di Gavi and ARneis are classic Piedmont whites that have enough flavor to stand up to the garlic, a nuttiness to go well with the pine nuts, and excellent acidity to make them stand out. If you want a light red, stick with Piedmont again -- a simple Barbera, Freisa or Grignolino will do the trick.

 

11. Dessert of strawberries, raspberries and vanilla cake or whipped cream. Strawberries and raspberries are said to invite love. Latin American legend tells us that the vanilla plant was created when a beautiful young girl fell in love with a boy from the wrong class, and when a god asked for her hand and she said no, he got so angry he turned her into a vanilla plant. 

Wine:  The honeyed, apricot flavors and good acidity of Sauternes or Barsac from Bordeaux would be excellent dessert partners. A late harvest (Auslese) Riesling from Mosel would be great or a lighter style fizzy wine like Moscato d'Asti also work wonders with berry vanilla desserts. Each of these ideas would work but my favorite pairing for berry vanilla desserts is demi sec Champagne

12. Wine! All on it's own, is an aphrodisiac in a bottle! Whether it's because your inhibitions go away or because alcohol also increases blood flow, red wine and Champagne, specifically, have been praised for raising the libidos and amorous intentions of those who consume it (in moderation). Apart from Champagne, which is always a great wine to pair with any food, and to liven up any dinner, here are some love inspired wines to consider:

  • Romeo and Juliet, the greatest love story of all time, lived in the city of Verona. To pay homage, drink the bold reds of the region: Valpolicella and Amarone

  • If you want the more pious route, you could pay homage to St. Valentine, the patron of love, marriage, and relationships. His relics are in a few key spots around Europe and you can choose which you like best for your wine selection!

1. St. Valentine's remains lie in Rome. Although Lazio's wines are a bit lacking, you could get a Sagrantino di Montefalco from Umbria (it borders Lazio in the northeast) or a lovely Piedirosso or Aglianico from Campania (borders Lazio to the south). Close enough, and these are great reds!

 

2. Relics of St. Valentine's are also in Madrid. There are some wines coming from Madrid now, but if you can't find those, get the rich reds of Ribera del Duero to inspire love. If you prefer white, get the whites of Rueda, in the same zone as Ribera del Duero, due north of Madrid. 

 

3. It's a little unclear whether the relics in Roquemaure in the Rhône are the real deal, but if it justifies drinking Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which is across the river, I'll go with it! 

**Note: there are also a ton of St. Valentine stuff in Dublin, so if you want a Guinness, that works too! 

Whether its for Valen-wine, date night, or to test the properties of these aphrodisiac foods, we wish you a fun filled night! 

Sources: 

____________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

To sign up for classes (now for UK and Euro time zones!) please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes!

Feb 08, 2021
Ep 360: Touraine and its Red and White Jewels of the Loire Valley
49:25

Touraine is in the Middle Loire Valley, and it has a myriad of pockets with famed and delicious wines. We give an overview of this region and discuss its most famous areas (Vouvray, Chinon, Bourgueil), which make some of the most distinctive, complex red and white wines in the world.

 

Here are the show notes:

  • Touraine is in the heart of the Loire Valley, half-way between Sancerre and Nantes, 225 km/140 mi from the Atlantic Ocean, and from the northern Massif Central
  • Touraine follows the Loire River for 100 KM/60 miles, and has 5,000 hectares /12,355 acres of vineyards
  • Dry and sweet white, red, rosé, and sparkling wines are all made here
  • The soil is varied, containing three main types:
    • Tuffeau: calcareous rock that produces wines of great acidity
    • Perruche: flint and clay with pockets of gravel, near the river
    • Limestone and clay, with pockets of gravel, near the river
  • The climate is Atlantic in the west, more continental as you move east.

"Thésée-la-Romaine (Loir-et-Cher)" by sybarite48 is licensed with CC BY 2.0. Click here to view a copy of this license,

Grapes

  • White is 59% of production: Sauvignon Blanc (nearly 80% of whites), with Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, Arbois and Sauvignon Gris, Pinot Gris
  • Red is 22% of production and Rosé is (8%): Gamay makes up more than 60% of harvest, with Cabernet Franc, Malbec (aka Côt), Cabernet Sauvignon, Pineau d’Aunis, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Merlot
  • Sparkling -- 11% -- Crémant de Loire

 

The rest of the show is spent on appellations…

The Famed Red Appellations

Chinon

  • Chinon is the biggest red AOC in Loire
  • It is on the western edge of the Touraine district, with multiple soil types, a combination of maritime and continental climates and, as a result, different styles of wines depending on site
  • Reds are of Cabernet Franc (90% with up to 10% Cabernet Sauvignon) make up 95% of production, with a small amount of whites of Chenin Blanc and rosé
  • Styles: light with red fruit, simple with good acidity or wines with dark black fruit with gamy, campfire, decayed leaf, earth notes and structure, power 
  • Aging: Most are best young, some 10 and 20 years.

Pascal et Alain Lorieux Chinon, Serge Doré Selections (the best Chinon I've ever had!)

 

Bourgueil & St. Nicolas de Bourgueil

  • North of Chinon, these wines are similar to those of Chinon – some are powerful, some are lighter in style, depending on the soil types and sites
  • Nicolas de Bourgueil is within Bourgueil (and can use the Bourgueil appellation) but the soils of this sub AOC are sandy, so the wines are lighter in style with soft tannins, and are meant to be consumed young.

Pascal et Alain Lorieux St. Nicholas de Bourgueil, Serge Doré Selections (the best St. Nicholas de Bourgueil I've ever had!)

 

The Famed White Appellations

Vouvray: Chenin Blanc

  • These Chenin Blanc wines are complex, diverse and varied due to differences in climate (some sites are more maritime influenced, some more continental), soil (some have tuffeau jaune, some tuffeau blanc, some alluvial), and slope direction (depending on tributary)
  • The wines can be dark or golden or very pale, have hay-like notes with apple, honey, citrus, wool aromas and flavors. Textures run the gamut – some are big and soft, some are dry and more refreshing.
  • Still Wines: Lots of sweetness levels – that are not always used on the labels so you don’t know what you’re going to get! Sec, Sec-Tendre, Demi-Sec, Moelleux (sometimes with botrytis). Top wines can age for decades
  • Sparkling: petillant (spritzy) and mousseux (fully sparkling) – neither the fizziness nor the sweetness is always marked clearly

2015 Bourillon Dorléans "La Coulée d'Argent" Vouvray -- what we drank during the podcast, Divine! Also Serge Doré Selections

 

Montlouis Sur Loire:

  • Vouvray’s sister appellation, it is across the river from Vouvray in the commune of Montlouis-sur-Loire, and is based on Chenin. These wines are similar to Vouvray and have the same confusing labelling problems, but also can be long lived, developing honeyed, spicy notes with time (30-40 years)

 

 

The other appellations of Touraine with their grapes are:

Northern areas

Coteaux du Loir: Whites of Chenin Blanc, reds with Pineau d’Aunis (min 65%) with Cabernet Franc, Côt, and Gamay. Rosé can be Côt, Gamay, Grolleau with Pineau d’Aunis

 

Coteaux du Vendomois:  Strangely, this appellation’s grapes are dictated by the percentage of the grapes in the vineyards, not by what is in the final blend. Whites are mainly of Chenin Blanc (80% of vineyards) with 20% Chardonnay. Reds are from Pineau d’Aunis, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, with Gamay. Rosés are 100% Pineau d’Aunis.

 

Jasnières is a small appellation with dry white of 100% Chenin Blanc.

 

 

Touraine District level designations

Touraine is a generic regional AOC but within it are 5 designations with unique wines:

  • Touraine Amboise is rosé and red of Gamay, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Côt with whites of Chenin Blanc
  • Touraine Azay-le Rideau is whites and rosés. Rosés are a minimum of 60% Grolleau, with Gamay, Côt or Cabernet Franc. Whites are made from 100% Chenin, and can be sec, demi-sec and sweet
  • Touraine-Mesland is reds and rosés that are a blend of Gamay, Cabernet Franc and Côt, Whites are Chenin Blanc but may be blended with Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay.
  • Touraine-Oisly (wah-LEE) is mainly white with tropical, fatter Sauvignon Blanc that has less minerality and acidity than Sancerre, for example.
  • Touraine Chenonceaux has similar whites to Touraine-Oisly of Sauvignon Blanc and reds of Cabernet Franc (35% – 50%) and Côt ( 50% – 85%)
  • Touraine Noble Joué is a Vin Gris (rosé) of Pinot Meunier (main varietal, minimum 40%), Pinot Gris (minimum 20%), Pinot Noir (minimum 10%)

 

 

Eastern areas

  • Cheverny makes reds, rosé, and whites.
    • Reds are light in style, and are made with Gamay and Pinot Noir with some Cabernet France and Côt
    • Rosé: must be at least 60% Pinot Noir with Gamay, Cabernet Franc and Côt
    • Whites are Sauvignon Blanc with Sauvignon Gris with Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Arbois (spelled Orbois
    • The area contains Cour-Cheverny, made from the rare Romorantin grape – which is light and aromatic with citrus and honeyed notes

 

Valençay makes whites of mainly Sauvignon Blanc, with Chardonnay, Arbois, Sauvignon Gris and reds mainly of Gamay.

____________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

To sign up for classes (now for UK and Euro time zones!) please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes!

Feb 02, 2021
Ep 359: Barra of Mendocino on Mendocino Wine, Organic Farming, & the Business of a Family Wine Company
56:06

The Barra Family has been farming grapes since Charlie Barra began in 1945 when he was 19. He bought his own vineyards in 1955 and married Martha Barra in the 1980s. The couple made the business run in earnest, with Martha concentrating on business and Charlie focused on farming.

In 1988, the Barras began farming their land organically and haven’t stopped since. They started their own brand, Barra of Mendocino in 1995, which today includes Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Muscat Canelli. After creating Barra of Mendocino, they created Girasole (sunflower in Italian) Vineyards, a lighter style with no oak.

Charlie passed away in 2019 but Martha and the family carry on with Randy Meyer, Barra's Director of Winemaking and Operations playing a major role in the business. As you’ll hear, Randy is a live wire and as we talk about organics about halfway through the show,  he unabashedly shares the secrets of conventional winemaking and how it is in sharp contrast to organics (and he knows, he spent 20+ years at Korbel and other large wineries). And it’s awesome.

Here are the show notes.

  • Martha shares the fascinating history of Barra and how Charlie Barra’s dedication to Redwood Valley, to Mendocino and to farming the right way brought about these excellent wines. We hear the family story, a 40+ year legacy


  • We delve into the economics of Mendocino fruit and how big Napa and Sonoma County wines couldn’t make their wines at affordable prices without Mendocino (the rule of 75% reigns here – only 75% of grapes need come from an AVA for it to be stated on the label. Where do you think that other 25% comes from?)

Yup, this is what I thought. Taken from an old publication, Courtesy of the Barra family

 

  • Martha and Randy tell us about Mendocino's and Redwood Valley's geographical and weather features – and how diurnals make these wines so special. Randy gives us a great perspective of how Mendocino is different from Sonoma and Napa on temperature, terrain, and culture.

  • Martha tells us the basics of organic farming, including the US laws around organic viticulture and wines. In short...
    • They use no “cides” (herbicides, pesticides, etc), no chemicals, no fertilizers and use pomace and cover crops to nourish the vines. Martha gives us details on how it all works to get healthy soils and healthy vines
    • Martha gives us the tip off for spotting a non-organic vineyard – “spray strips” of pesticides around the vines. It’s her tell-tale for a chemically treated vineyard

 

To round out the show, Randy gives us the lowdown on organics versus non-organic! We have a good time talking about his journey into the world of organics from large industrial wine (he spills so much for us and he’s hysterical!):

  • Randy talks about how organic winemaking is about prevention -- getting it right in the vineyard and during crush so you don't have to fix things later. He talks candidly about the challenge of making wine without sulfites (they help make wine shelf stable and provide longevity).

  • Then stuff gets real!! I ask Randy, who is really at the beginning of his organic winemaking career, after years of working at big wineries, to compare and contrast. We bust it all open and Randy tells us all about the “tricks” of big wine. Randy contrasts organic winemaking with other winemaking. You'll never buy big wine again!

 

Finally, we talk about the Barra of Mendocino's wines and the Girasole wines and how they differ

  • Barra of Mendocino are wines selected from the best grapes and aged in about 30% new French oak (We dork out again on barrels, digging into what oak does to a wine and how different toast levels affect the juice)
  • Girasole is a fresher style with no oak

__________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

To sign up for classes (now for UK and Euro time zones!) please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes!

Jan 26, 2021
Ep 358: Mendocino, California
46:21

Just over the county line from Sonoma is the fascinating region of Mendocino. Mendocino is a large county that spans one California’s largest, most diverse, and northernmost wine growing regions. This quiet area, full of farmers who are passionate about the land, has just over 17,000 acres under vine in 12 appellations.

From www.avwines.com, Anderson Valley, Mendocino

As we dig into what is here, you will learn that this region is full of surprises. Not only is Mendocino termed the “organic wine mecca of California” for its meticulous care of the land and focus on organic certification, it's range of terroir means producers can make everything from sophisticated, earthy, cool climate Pinot Noir and Alsace varietals, to elegant sparkling wine, to full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah.

From www.mendowine.com; Shannon Ridge Winery

There is a myriad of climates, soils and elevations in Mendocino, and learning more will make you question why more wineries aren’t based here and why these wines are not more widely available and known to wine lovers.

www.mendowine.com: Gibson Vineyard, Hopland

 

___________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

To sign up for classes (now for UK and Euro time zones!) please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes!

Jan 19, 2021
Ep 357: The Role of Alcohol in Wine
53:34

It’s the first show of our 10th year! WOW! And for our double digit birthday, this time we bring you a super dorky one that is so important to understand in wine. I have already professed it the dorkiest show of 2021, and I’m pretty sure I can’t top this so – Voilà!

First we have some fun, and challenge you to follow the three wine resolutions/challenges I’ve set forth! They are so easy, even I can keep them:

  1. Have a wine from a region you’ve never heard of or had before! Expand your palate, do a little research, and try something totally new. 

  2. Have wine from a region that you have hated in the past. Wine is constantly changing, especially with climate change so a region you may have thought was yucky in the past, may very well have turned into your next favorite wine hub!

  3. Drink more of the wine you love but always forget about! We all have one of those. When you get it you say to yourself, “why don’t I drink more of this? It’s so great!”

Here are the show notes on the role of alcohol in wine:

__________________________________________

Alcohol levels are largely determined in the vineyard:

  • Sugar is converted to alcohol during fermentation, so sugar levels in a vineyard are essential to determining how much potential alcohol a wine can have. From véraison (when grapes start to get color) to ripening, grapes accumulate glucose and fructose. 
  • How much sugar depends on the vineyard conditions-- light, water, vineyard management are important
    • Cooler climates, elevation, north-facing slopes yield lower potential alcohols
    • Irrigation matters in determining sugar levels some studies show glucose and fructose is higher in irrigated vines than non-irrigated ones (see Beverages Journal below, Imbibe Magazine)
    • Vineyard practices like canopy management (chopping off leaves - plant doesn't absorb as much sunlight) or green harvesting (cutting grape bunches before they ripen, can focus on ripening the few that are left) help increase or decrease sugars.
      • We discuss the idea of phenolic ripeness and how that quest for flavor has led to higher alcohol levels
      • We also discuss how early picking, which seems like a natural solution, can lead to higher acid levels, less complexity, sometimes green notes in the wine – often just LESS GOOD flavor!

 

Alcohol in winemaking (how it gets into wine):

  • Yeast convert fermentable grape sugars to alcohol either from ambient yeast or by inoculated yeast.

Sugar + Yeast = Alcohol +Carbon Dioxide (+heat)

  • Potential alcohol (often measured by must weight) is how much sugar is available to the yeast in the grape must.
    • if you don’t have enough, you can chaptalize with cane or beet sugar to raise alcohol levels (this has NOTHING to do with sugar in a wine, only with raising alcohol during fermentation)
  • During fermentation/maceration: Alcohol produces esters by working with the organic acids in the very acidic fermenting juice.

alcohol + acid = ester

  • Yeast play a big role in alcohol production, obviously. When yeast make alcohol, they kill themselves and other strains take over to finish the fermentation

Mark Smith, CC BY 2.0, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0

 

  • Alcohol is a strong solvent so it can extract stuff out of the grape must (mushed up grape soup after crush)
    • Bitter and astringent notes from seeds, skins, stems come out as alcohol levels increase, so winemakers have to be careful not to over-extract bitter compounds when the alcohol levels are high at the end of fermentation.
      • Cold Soaking can help: The wine stays at -10˚C for up to one week, so anthocyanins can come out without the bitterness.
  • Other benefits of Alcohol in winemaking
    • Alcohol is anti-microbial
    • Alcohol is a preservative during the wine maturation process.

 

Alcohol Measurement:

  • Alcohol by volume (ABV): milliliters of alcohol present in 100ml of wine expressed as a percentage.
  • Wines range from 5% - 25% alcohol. Factors like climate, grape variety, and winemaking play a role
  • What’s low, medium and high alcohol levels: My Judgement
    • Low Alcohol: Under 11.5%, and are often sweet and light – German Kabinett wines, Moscato d’Asti are examples
    • Medium Alcohol: 11.5 -12.5%
      • Medium-low: 11.5% - 12% ABV – Lambrusco, some Loire whites, some German and Austrian Whites, some northern Italian
      • Medium- 12.5% - 13.5% -- This is about the average for dry wines in Europe. Bordeaux, Bourgogne, Champagne, Barbera, Nebbiolo, Rosé, many Chilean wines are in this range
    • High Alcohol14%+ -- Nearly all New World Wines, many Spanish and Portuguese reds, Argentinean reds, Southern Italian wines, some southern French wines
    • Fortified/VERY High Alcohol – 15%+ Usually fortified but can just be really ripe and not de-natured

 

The Perception of Alcohol:

Alcohol activates smell, taste, and feel (the burn) receptors

  • We perceive alcohol as a combo of sweet and bitter taste and the burning sensation (similar to a chili pepper) and some of this is genetic -- some people perceive alcohol as sweetness, some as more bitter (also has to do with concentration of alcohol:
  • Body: viscosity, fullness are directly related to alcohol content
  • Alcohol amplifies astringency, bitterness and acidity. Higher residual sugar is often used to counter this issue
  • there is no predetermined alcohol level that will create balance, this is the ART
  • VA: lots of alcohol means it can seem vinegar like

 

Alcohol Levels and Taxes:

  • For the wonks among us, we discuss how alcohol is taxed in the US, UK, EU and Canada. You may be surprised at how it’s calculated!

 

We wrap with some interesting ways winemakers reduce alcohol in wine

  • We reiterate the importance of getting it right in the vineyard
  • Humidification/ watering back: is a very common practice. You add water and it dilutes alcohol (and flavor)
  • Semi-permeable membranes to separate alcohol from wine
  • Reverse osmosis: wine passes through a membrane to strip it of ethanol. It is performed at low temperatures and aims to change only the wine alcohol content, and it usually results in 1-2% reduction. It is cheap, but it has been found to reduce complexity, mouthfeel, and affect aging in red wines.
  • Spinning cone column: uses centrifugal force and steam, to separate water from alcohol. The water is then recombined with the color, flavor, and tannins and poured back into the wine to dilute the alcohol while keeping flavor. This is very expensive yet effective

Source: Flavourtech

 

____________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

To sign up for classes (now for UK and Euro time zones!) please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes!

 

___________________________________________________________

Podcast Sources:

Beverages 2015, 1, 292-310; doi:10.3390/beverages1040292

https://daily.sevenfifty.com/taking-control-of-alcohol-levels-in-wine/

https://imbibemagazine.com/dry-farmed-wine/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinning_cone

https://www.ato.gov.au/Business/Wine-equalisation-tax/

https://www.decanter.com/learn/tax-wine-much-pay-uk-ask-decanter-357119/

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/add.14631

https://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/business/excise-duties-alcohol-tobacco-energy/excise-duties-alcohol_en

Jan 11, 2021
Ep 356: The Historic Champagne Lanson with Hervé Dantan, Cellarmaster
01:03:00

Founded in 1760 as the 4th Champagne house, Champagne Lanson is known for its fresh, acidic style (no malolactic fermentation!). Over its 260 years, it has stayed true to its principles and that original flavor profile.

In this show, Hervé Dantan, cellarmaster and Champagne native, gives us a unique perspective. Hervé is the son of grape growers in Champagne, and after graduating from enology school, he did  internships in Bordeaux, Bourgogne, Alsace, and in California to learn about regions around the world.

At 25 years old only he became one of the youngest cellar master in Champagne. He joined Champagne Lanson in 2013 and in 2015, Hervé Dantan became the Chef de Cave of Champagne Lanson

This podcast is different from others in that Hervé discusses the land and the vineyard. His perspective is so very different from many in the region, who choose instead to focus on the process in the winery. For you as listeners -- meaning dorky normal wine people -- I think you will appreciate the conversation. It's much less marketing and much more meat of how Champagne is truly made. 

Here are some of the topics we cover: 

  • Hervé discusses the origins of Lanson -- how it was the 4th Champagne house founded and how, whereas others have decided to change their styles to something fatter and fuller bodied over time, Lanson has kept it crisp style that forgoes malolactic fermentation for bright, dancing fruit, pure acidity.

  • We discuss the importance of relationship with growers, understanding the land in Champagne, and how Lanson sources its grapes. They use fruit from 100 of the 320 Cru villages that make up the Champagne Appellation. More than 50% of all the grapes that Lanson uses come from Grand Cru and Premier Cru villages (30% is normal for Champagne). 

 

  • Hervé tells us about the different regions of Champagne and the value each serves in the blend.

 

  • We discuss the organic and biodynamic viticulture projects of Lanson and what Hervé and his team have learned from growing grapes in this manner. We discuss the difficulty of total certification in Champagne, and Hervé discusses the importance of sustainable certification. In this, Hervé also tells us how Lanson is dealing with climate change, mainly by working in the vineyard and with nature to adapt. 

 

  • We discuss the most difficult part of Hervé's job -- assembling the blends. He gives great detail into how it's done and what goes into making each type of wine (hint: the non-vintage wine is the hardest to make!)

 

  • We talk process and I ask about two things I've always wondered about:
    • Why having the disgorgement date on the bottle is important 
    • Is there a noticeable difference in quality between using a gyropalette and remuage/riddling by hand

 

  • Hervé, as a native of Champagne, tells us how he pairs the wine with food. Here are some of his ideas:
    • Always as an aperitif and with cheese
    • Chardonnay-based Champagne with seafood
    • Blancs de Noir/Vintage/Rosé Champagne with white meat or with dishes that are both sweet and salty
    • Old vintage Champagne with some red meats

 

  • Not surprising, when asked about the future for Lanson and Champagne, Hervé told us it's all about the vineyard! Amen! 

___________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! And get an eGift Card for the holidays and Wine Access will donate 10% of the proceeds to one of my favorite charities: No Kid Hungry.  It's a great charity that helps end childhood hunger. 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

To sign up for classes (now for UK and Euro time zones!) please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes!

 
Dec 28, 2020
Ep 355: The 8 Holiday Wine Gifts for Wine Lovers (plus 5 wine gag gifts to make you laugh)
39:14

It's the end of the year and there's still time to get interesting and USEFUL gifts for the wine lovers in your life. We covered basics of glassware and gadgets in Episode 338, but this pod covers some cool gift ideas that aren't essentials but, rather, nice to haves (or just damn funny to know about in the case of the 5 gag gifts!). Here's the run down of our recommendations (in no particular order so don't read into it!) 

Disclosure: Some of the products contain affiliate links so I may make a small amount if you buy the products below but no one has paid me or gifted me these products so I'll put them on the list.

The Real Gifts

1. Brumate Winesulator and 2 Uncork'd XL wine tumblers with lids, $59.99-$69.99
What is it: If you travel to the beach, go camping, or hang out outdoors in warm weather, you know that glass bottles and drink ware are a no-no. At the beach glass is illegal, for camping and hiking the risk of breakage is high, and in warm weather your wine temperatures rise and can skunk the wine while it sits in glass. Enter the Brumate Winesulator. Pour the wine into this insulated bottle and it will keep it cool for 24 hours (so it claims. Even if it's not that long, it will be long enough for you to down it!).  

Why we like it: The cups are akin to the Yeti Tumblers that we recommend in Ep 338 and they will keep the wine at a great temperature too. This is a completely practical gift that the recipient wind up using frequently once they have it.                  

 

2. Sipski Silicone Wine Glass Holder for the Bath & Shower $14.99

What is it: As I say in the show, I have no idea why I find myself in the shower with a wine glass so often (M.C. Ice blames it on our kids), but I do. This is a wine glass holder that suctions right onto your shower wall.

Why we like it: My main problems with wine in the bathroom are twofold:

    • I worry the glass will break if I perch it on the side of the shower
    • Water gets into the glass if I put it on the floor of the shower and dilutes the flavor.

The Sipski seems to solve both problems. Know anyone with these pressing issues? This is a perfect gift.

 

3. The Durand for old bottles and fragile corks $125

What is it: I think their site says it best: The Durand® removes "compromised and fragile corks, whole and intact, from older, valued wines. The Durand has been repeatedly tested on the most challenging corks. It has performed consistently and flawlessly."

 

Why we like it: I have to admit, I don't drink enough fine, old wine to justify buying this device, but I do know people how own it and they love it. I will admit that I've unwittingly made my own makeshift Durand using a corkscrew and a two-pronged cork puller, but this is far more practical, slicker, and makes more sense! This is perfect for a wine lover who has a big cellar with lots of old bottles

 

 

4. CORAVIN, Model Three, $149.95

What is it: Coravin is the biggest innovation in wine since the invention of the corkscrew. Coravin was a sponsor of the pod for a brief time and their founder, Greg Lambrecht, came on to talk about this invention process. He's a biotech guy who figured out how to insert a needle into a cork, take out wine and replace it with argon gas, without introducing oxygen to the wine.

Why we like it: It is pricey, but if you know someone who likes to try a lot of different bottles instead of opening one and sticking with it for the night, or if someone is the lone wine drinker in his or her house, this is the best investment going. It works so well and I use it all the time, especially when I teach classes and don't want to open five bottles in a night! It is perfect if you just want a glass of wine on a Tuesday night but don't want the whole bottle. This is the gold standard for any wine lover and you will be much beloved if you gift this!

 

 

5. A Wine Access Gift Card (you choose the amount)

What is it: Yes, they are my sponsor for the show and they did sponsor this podcast but they didn't put me up to putting them on the list. I could have been more generic about a "wine gift card" but I truly believe that Wine Access has top notch products and that the best gift card for wine you could get someone is an  eGift card to their site.

Why we like it: I have worked with them for more than a year and I can tell you that the wines are awesome. They have a great team who only selects 1 in 18 bottles they try. They have excellent customer service, can guarantee that every bottle comes directly from the winery (no weird second-hand stuff), and they have perfect temperature controlled storage so every bottle comes to you in perfect shape. I also love the materials each bottle comes with -- pairings, serving temperatures, educational information -- it's all here. So yes, they are my sponsor, but there's a reason for that. They are top shelf and if you get someone a gift card from them, they will thank you a hundred times over.

Bonus: If you are pressed for time, this is an eGift card -- it gets there within seconds of you registering it!
(*Not available in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Utah.)

 

6. Murray’s Cheese Shop: Red Wine Lover's Collection Basket, $95

What is it: Being a native New Yorker means I'm partial to all things New York, and Murray's Cheese (the original location is on Bleeker Street in the East Village) is one of those things. A going concern for more than 80 years, Murray's has its own cellar where they age their cheeses, trained staff, and all around exceptional cheeses.

Why we like it: This collection has a bunch of great cheeses that will pair with reds (and if you don't want to fork over the $95 plus shipping, you can use their list as a guide and make your own basket!). Another great one for a last minute gift -- it's shipped within two days so it will get to your wine and cheese lover fast!

 

7. The Outdoor Wine Table, $58.00 at Uncommongoods.com 

What is it: Another great gift for outdoor wine enjoyment, this is the perfect little table for people who picnic, like hanging out outdoors, or who go to a hell of a lot of sports games to watch their kids play 😂. The collapsible table holds a bottle, two stems and a small cheese plate.

Why we like it: A classy gift at a fair price. The only hitch -- it's on backorder so you'll have to order it, print out a picture, and tell your friend or loved one that the gift is on the way!

 

8.  The Wine For Normal People Book ($22/priceless) and/or
a Gift Certificate to take a class ($42 per class)

Yes, I wrote a book. I think it's pretty good AND I think you should give it to someone you know and love! If you buy it and send the receipt to hello (at) winefornormalpeople (dot) com, I'll make your gift a one-of-a-kind and send you a customized bookplate that you can stick in the cover. Tell me who you want me to address it to and it's yours.

 

And the Wine For Normal People Online Wine School starts its 7th year in 2021. I'm not teaching online because of trends, I've been at this a very long time! $42 for two people gets you 1.5-2 hours of high energy, information packed classes that always sell out for a reason -- you won't get this kind of class anywhere else. I'll make you laugh and think, and I may even torture you with some bad food pairings, but all in the service of super wine dorkery. 

 

The Gag Gifts...

These are scattered throughout in the podcast, but here are the links to some of the funniest things we found this year in wine gag gifts (plus a reprisal of an old favorite:

 

  1. Primeware Insulated Drink Purse w/ 3L Bladder Bag, $45 

  2. Forum Novelties Smuggle Your Booze Tampon Flask Standard, $11

  3. The Original WineRack Booze Bra Flask - Adjustable Design - Holds 25oz of Booze (Grey, Medium), $25

  4.  FlaskScarf Women's Jersey Infinity Novelty Flask Scarf (Hidden 8 Ounce Bladder)$27

  5.  Champagne Bottle Straws 12 Pack ($4.48 of everything is wrong with this. The answer to: You know you have a drinking problem when...)

[____________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! And get an eGift Card for the holidays and Wine Access will donate 10% of the proceeds to one of my favorite charities: No Kid Hungry.  It's a great charity that helps end childhood hunger. 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

To sign up for classes (now for UK and Euro time zones!) please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes!

 
Dec 15, 2020
Ep 354: A New Look At Bordeaux's Médoc -- with Château La Cardonne's Magali Guyon
56:58

Magali Guyon has been the technical director/ winemaker of Château La Cardonne in the Médoc of Bordeaux for more than 20 years. Having worked in Bordeaux for some of the biggest names – she is the former winemaker at Château Lynch-Bages – she represents the best of the best in Bordeaux. Château La Cardonne was recently awarded the prestigious Cru Bourgeois Supérieur title as well. 

In this show, we take a different look at the Médoc (the prestigious Left Bank of Bordeaux) and approach it as a proposition of growing and terroir – not of pretty chateaux and expensive wines. Magali helps us reframe the discussion of Bordeaux to show us that the true essence of Bordeaux is the vineyard and the land.

 

Here are the show notes/discussion topics:

  • The location, size, and the major water, soil, climate, and other influences in the Médoc

Map from Vins du Médoc

  • The soils and the differences between the various types of gravel, the clay-limestone, and the limestone bedrock that could be particularly suited to white wine in the future (yes, we do discuss the possibility of a Blanc appellation for Médoc)

 

  • The flat aspect of Bordeaux and how diurnals must make up for what it lacks in altitude or slope

  • The grapes of the Médoc – mainly Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. We talk about what type of land is well-suited to each grape and what matters when it comes to good viticulture

 

  • The many separate areas/AOCs –Margaux, St. Julien, Pauiilac, Listrac, Moulis, St. Estèphe, and the wider areas of Haut-Médoc and Médoc. We talk about the similarities (the oceanic climate) and the differences (nuances in climate and soil)

 

  • I ask Magali about why there are no wines that tout “old vines” or Vieilles Vignes on their labels in Bordeaux. She explains why that could be.

  • Climate change and the challenges of strictly organic or biodynamic viticulture are a big topic. We also talk about the new grape varieties – Touriga Nacional, Marselan, Arinarnoa, and Castets – and the potential for a few of them. We address the importance of tradition and how keeping wines stylistically true to the region is a priority

 

After an in-depth conversation on Médoc, we discuss Château la Cardonne.

  • Magali explains why she vinifies each lot separately – plot by plot. We discuss how important it is for a vigneron to be in charge of both vineyards and winemaking. We talk about the use of oak and how it is viewed in Bordeaux (as a way to provide controlled oxidation and tannin stabilization, NOT as a “spice rack” as it is in the New World) and why many vigneron are trading barrels for amphora
  •  

 

  • Château La Cardonne ages the wines before release in their famous “Cathedral” . It is 2020 at the time of the show and they are just releasing their 2010 wine

Photo credit: Vins du Médoc

  • We discuss the “caste system” of Bordeaux and how frustrating it is that the classification systems suppress the reputation and excellent wines of places not included in these old rankings. On the positive side, we discuss how that translates to value for us as wine lovers (La Cardonne is a mere US$25)

 


We wrap with a brief discussion of women in Bordeaux, the benefit of foreign investment in Bordeaux (Château La Cardonne is owned by a Hong Kong-based company), and how the future for Bordeaux is exciting and full of possibilities.

 

The show is a great new way to look at Bordeaux. Forget chateaux: look at the land!

*Unless specified otherwise all photos from the Instagram feed of Chateau La Cardonne

____________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! And get an eGift Card for the holidays and Wine Access will donate 10% of the proceeds to one of my favorite charities: No Kid Hungry.  It's a great charity that helps end childhood hunger. 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed!

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

To sign up for classes (now for UK and Euro time zones!) please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes!

To get a Gift Certificate for a Wine For Normal People class for your loved one go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes!

And for a customized, signed bookplate for a gift, send your receipt to hello (at) winefornormalpeople (dot)    com

Dec 08, 2020
Ep 353: Women in Wine and the Subtle Symphony of Quiet Misogyny
43:18

This is a transcript of the first part of the podcast. The second part of the show discusses these points in more detail. 

 

Women in Wine and the Subtle Symphony of Quiet Misogyny

After mulling over the various scandals in wine lately, and thinking about my position in the wine world, I have a perspective to add beyond just a social media post to call out the behavior of those in the wine business, those who have minimized the situation, and the hollow calls for change that likely won’t happen.

 

Part I: What’s in the news, and what I have seen…

If you missed it, in the past few months, a spate of “scandals” has broken out in the wine world regarding women in wine.

 

First, it was the #winebitch scandal in the United Kingdom. This occurred when a well-known TV wine personality from the “Wine Show” in the UK and his cronies passed around text messages debasing young female and “softer” male wine influencers. I didn’t see these messages before they were removed from the web, but I’ve heard from those who did that the threads were raunchy, rude rants. They were also far-reaching – covering everything from the lack of value of these people’s contributions to the wine world (one could say that topic is at least ok to discuss although not in the manner raised) to criticizing their looks, children, and families (not even remotely ok).

 

On the heels of this, an exposé in the New York Times revealed that the highest-ranking men of the cult of Master Sommeliers, as I like to call it and have written about before, have been demanding sexual favors and even raping (young) women in exchange for guaranteed career advancement. I have made the argument for a long time that the Court of Master Sommeliers is an exclusive in-crowd of people who know each other and who dictate membership based not only on skill but on favoritism. Apparently, that favoritism stretches far beyond the run of the mill BS that I had speculated about.

 

Is this surprising? No. When I worked at the big hulking winery in the mid-2000s, executive assistants who had been there for 35 years told me that the senior executives and owners used to say wildly inappropriate things to them, and kiss and grope them while they were trying to work. Although these women tried (literally) to run away from these predators, this mistreatment was acceptable behavior and the women’s silence was the only way to maintain employment.

 

I’m not excusing the behavior, but maybe this legacy means we need to take a historical view to understand the issues. Wine in the United States is an old school industry. Its very structure is based on something that was set up in 1933 after Congress’s failed attempt to ban alcohol through a constitutional amendment. Doubting the public could handle itself properly, Congress encouraged states to set up roadblocks and a three-tier system that treats adults as children with choices made for them about what, when, and how they can buy wine, gives certain huge producers and distributors power over markets, and in certain states, despite Supreme Court rulings, denies citizens the ability to procure the wines they prefer to drink.

 

Further, for those in the industry, if you don’t drink copious amounts with your customers and co-workers, and if you are a woman not willing to be a good old boy and listen to piggish talk and smoke cigars, you’re a pariah. It’s an industry based on power in the hands of the few (like many industries).

 

The deification of sommeliers, who completely disconnect with the very people they are supposed to serve in pursuit of a title that will give them power, is another outgrowth of this. The conclusion: the wine industry is based on other people who apparently know better than you (whomever you are), making decisions for you that you may or may not agree with. The recent scandals prove that little has changed since the incidents of the “Mad Men” era the women at the big winery told me about. And as more women have entered the industry, the opportunities for this kind of behavior have just multiplied.  Sexism in the wine industry is a subtle symphony of quiet misogyny.

 

 

As for me, I can’t count the number of times I have been ignored when I am in a group of industry men talking about wine. I am usually invisible to them and generally have no value. When I am with MC Ice in a setting that is not for podcast fans and listeners, men ask him the questions about wine even after he tells them what I do. And although I was too old and not cute enough to be a candidate for sexual harassment when I entered wine (I’m not sad about this, don’t worry!), the invisibility factor and belittlement factor was high with my male colleagues and bosses.

 

Women in high positions in wine are also guilty of this type of behavior – ignoring those they feel are unimportant or who lack status (men and women at conferences will ignore me until someone else tells them my audience is large and then there’s huge interest on their part, huge disgust on mine). Plenty of women in wine are just about self-preservation. In fact, an article by Jancis Robinson is nothing short of a “there’s nothing to see here” rant about how the younger generation has social media to make “a fuss” as she puts it. She argues that change should come for the economic viability of the wine industry, not for the absolute immorality of the acts of misogyny and inequality. I fear that her stance and that of those who support her show us that many women of the old guard are equally at fault for ignoring what goes on in the real world with normal wine people, AKA, the unwashed masses.

 

 

Part II: The Solution -- No, it’s not more women’s only groups or women’s scholarships

I don’t really consider myself part of the industry -- I chose to blaze my own path and work with what I consider to be the best sides of wine – producers and wine drinkers – and abandon the business for the very reasons I just described. Because of that I often stay out of these debates. But this is one that I need to discuss. Because like everything else in wine, the issue has been framed in a way that just doesn’t work and won’t bring structural change.

 

So now I’d like to talk about the fix. Because the fix is not letting the men and women with stale ideas in the wine industry and financial interest steer this ship. And this is what is happening now. The wine industry LOVES to take the issue of the day, elevate it, and sweep it under the rug, or marginalize it so it becomes a splinter group. That’s what I see happening now: women’s initiatives! Let’s create a group to forward the cause of Women in Wine! Let’s make it so that women get promoted and we have our own safe space! Let’s give scholarships to women!

 

This tack lacks imagination and accomplishes nothing: We’ve already done this and it doesn’t work. The large corporations become sponsors of these “women-first” organizations so the problems they themselves create in the industry can’t be discussed in an open forum. Further, often the events are too costly and in places where the people who would benefit most can’t afford to get to (Napa and New York ain’t cheap). And frankly, once these organizations are off the ground, the women form their own in-crowd and never reach the people who may need the most help; Think of the young woman starting out in wine in Alabama who may be getting harassed but has nowhere to turn, or the sommelier in Omaha who has been told she can’t advance because men won’t take her seriously at a steakhouse. The elite women’s groups and scholarships for the few lucky enough to get them do nothing to help the majority of women.

 

And while I applaud the people who are trying to lift up other women (unlike many in the old guard who feel they need to keep rising stars down to maintain their own status), we do not and cannot operate in a bubble. These organizations that are supporting women need to take a hard look at how to make change. The only way to make this work is to enlist male allies; not to cloister off in group of women who believe what you believe. Men and women must work together to create a productive solution that doesn’t make this problem a “women’s issue,” thus giving these predators and subtle sexists the power to make the situation an “us” vs. “them” issue.

 

The organizations for women are already funded and organized, but now it’s time for them to move beyond talk and into action. They should take a page from the LGBTQ community: PFLAG could serve as a great model – chapters exist all over the US to help people work together to understand the issues, foster acceptance, and create safer and more inclusive communities for people of the LGBTQ community. This volunteer chapter structure allows dialog, understanding, and true change and it is not dependent on how much money you have or whether or not you can pay $1,000 for a weekend conference in New York or Napa. With well-known, funded, publicized, and gender inclusive chapters change can happen in any community where women and decent, good men are willing to work to solve the problems in wine.

 

Women are hurt and outraged but they should heed the warning: it is never right to close ranks and push people to the margins who want to help and who are willing, during our darkest times, to stand up for us and with us to help fight the darker elements of sexism. This is not a “women’s issue.” This is a cultural change that must happen in the wine industry and it can’t be done with scholarships and conferences of women alone. It must be a joint effort from everyone who is willing to be educated and to advocate for fairness.

 

Until we address the problem and come up with an innovative, inclusive solution, the engine of sexism and discrimination will continue in wine, stifling creativity, destroying the self-esteem of outstanding people, and holding the entire wine industry back from progress it deserves. 

_______________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). 

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

And to sign up for classes (now for UK and Euro time zones!) please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Dec 01, 2020
Ep 352: The 2020 Thanksgiving Episode -- American Wine Edition
36:01

2020 has been unlike any other, so we are recommending some different things for this year’s annual Thanksgiving show. This year has been tough for everyone, but small, family-owned wineries have been hit pretty hard by fires, lack of tourism, and in some cases, rough harvest conditions. Thanksgiving is the quintessential American holiday, so for this year, especially, we’re recommending that we show support for great American, family-owned wineries and their wines that pair perfectly with any kind of Thanksgiving food you decide to eat.

 

We start out with a few important announcements:

  • The Wine Resources section of the WFNP site is now live. Check it out! 
  • This year I’m running the holiday book offer again! Details here:

 

Here are the show notes:

  • Regardless of where you are or who you are with, our #1 Thanksgiving tip this year (in this kind of sucky and restrictive year without our loved ones in many cases): Drink something really fantastic – haul out the wine that you’ve been saving and have it now. Celebrate that you are here, that you are ok, that you will make it through this tough time.

 

We then spend the show traveling the country from west to east, recommending wines from all the top quality regions:

New World Wine Regions - California

  • Oregon
    • Also affect by fires this year and chockful of family owned producers (but make sure you check the big, hulking winery list in the Wine Resources part of the site to avoid buying from a conglomerate), Oregon makes great Pinot Noir, unoaked Chardonnay, and Gamay – all great with every part of a traditional, savory Thanksgiving meal. Some favorites: Bergström, Torii Mor, Cristom, Lingua Franca

New World - Oregon Wine Regions

  • Washington
    • With more body, power, and alcohol, the wines of Washington are fantastic for grilled foods, beef stews, meatloaf, and hearty food you may decide to have in lieu of traditional TG food. Walla Walla, Yakima, and the larger Columbia Valley AVAs are great. I mention Pepper Bridge, Amavi, Sleight of Hand, Saviah, Hightower, and Delille

New World - Washington Wine Regions

  • Texas
    • Hands down, the winning wine in Texas right now is Tempranillo. A bolder, higher alcohol version than the original Spanish wine, these wines will be great with Spanish cheeses (Manchego) and the same foods we mention for Washington wines. Spicewood, Perdenales are mentioned. 

 

  • We mention Michigan for its Riesling, New Mexico for its large sparkling brand, Gruet, and Colorado for some of its emerging wineries as well

 

  • Finger Lakes, New York
    • Riesling, Riesling and more Riesling is my recommendation. Dry, off-dry, sweet, dessert – all work with herbs, spices, butter and fat. Riesling is an MVP – it can also handle curry, Chinese food, Indian spices, and any food with heat. And Finger Lakes, with the traditional peachy, white flower, mineral bouquet, its stupendous acidity and lower alcohol make it a complete must-have. Anthony Road Wine Company’s Late Harvest Vignoles is the dessert wine of the century – a native/hybrid grape made in a sweet style, also noted in the Splendid Table segment.

 

  • Long Island, New York
    • From my native land, M.C. Ice and I wax poetic on sparkling wine from Lieb and Sparkling Pointe, and then mention great medium bodied Cabernet Franc and Merlot from these gorgeous island wineries. With these kinds of profiles and more moderate alcohol (make sure to check that’s the case before you buy), you will have reds that can weave their way in and out of hard-to-pair dishes – from green beans to creamed spinach to fried turkey. And the sparkling may be an even better match for all that – but you be the judge.

 

  • Virginia
    • It has been a terrible year for the wineries of Virginia. Terrible frost settled at the beginning of the growing season, killing off the vines before they had a chance to form. The tiny harvests were fine but there won’t be much wine to sell from 2020, an unfortunate occurrence in the time of Covid. We mention the fabulous Albariño from Afton Mountain (I mentioned their sparkling, Bollicine, in the Splendid Table segment) and unoaked Chardonnay from Pollak, which are our seafood picks, as well as the versatile whites and reds of Linden and Glen Manor. We highly recommend dessert wine from VA – it’s a perfect end to the meal!

 

We are so grateful for you and we hope you open something fantabulous to celebrate that you are making it through this year, no matter how hard it has been!

 

Elizabeth and M.C. Ice

 

_______________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). 

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

And to sign up for classes (now for UK and Euro time zones!) please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Nov 23, 2020
Ep 351: Severine Schlumberger of Domaine Schlumberger and the very French side of Alsace
53:25

Séverine Schlumberger joins us for the third installment of our mini-tour of Alsace (first installment was Ep 343). To provide a counterpoint to Phillippe Blanck of Domaine Paul Blanck (Ep 250), the Schlumberger family is more devoutly French in attitude and Séverine tells us a different story of her family’s heritage, attitudes, and how Domaine Schlumberger developed and grew to become one of the largest family-owned domaines in Alsace.

Founded by Nicolas Schlumberger in 1810, Domaine Schlumberger produces all estate-bottled wines from southern Alsace. The Schlumberger vineyards are among the largest in Alsace, and one of the largest blocks of contiguous vineyards in all of France. The Schlumberger domains operate and vinify 140 ha/346 acres of vines, half of which are spread over 4 Grands Crus, which have been in the family since 1810 -- Kitterlé, Kessler, Saering and Spiegel. The vineyard is sustainably managed, 30 ha is biodynamically farmed, and the Domaine is working on organic certification for the whole property.

 

Séverine Schlumberger, co-owner of the Domaine, is part of the 7th generation running the estate. Here are the show notes:

 

First we tackle history, as it is so essential in Alsace…

  • Séverine tells us about her family history in Alsace. She discusses how her family came from Germany to Guebwiller and how their family grew in size and diversified from wine to textiles, finance and oil in a network that stretched from Alsace, to Paris, to the United States. Séverine paints a picture of a family who very much considered themselves French and defied German occupation each time it occurred in the 19th and 20th

  • I ask Séverine if she finds that her family was particularly egalitarian because the prestige cuvées are named after the women: Christine, Anne, and Clarisse. In her very matter-of-fact, brass tacks style, Séverine tells us that her family was actually quite sexist, and that the women either needed to die or become very old to even be considered important in the domaine! I love the honesty!

 

  • We speak briefly about Michel Schlumberger in Sonoma, which a distant relative of Séverine’s established and then sold. In case you were wondering, there is no close tie between the wineries and wasn’t even before the sale to a holding company.

 

Next we address the estate:

  • The Domaine is located on steep, dry, infertile hills with slopes of up to 50% gradient and at an altitude ranging from 820- 1280 ft/250 - 390 meters. It’s in the Haut-Rhin area of Alsace (the south), which is dry and considered top quality.

 

 

  • Séverine talks about how much of the Grand Cru grapes go into the basic tier, “Les Princes Abbés” wines. The wines aren’t mature for 15 years and the basic wines are essential for introducing wine drinkers to the world of Alsace, so they get special care.

  • We discuss the new classification system that is proposed (it would be like Burgundy’s system) and some of the qualms Séverine has with it. Then we discuss the standardization of a sweetness scale of the wines, tradition styles of Alsace, the use of very limited oak, and how climate change has affected the wines.

Finally, Séverine tells us her wish for the future: that Alsace wines become as popular on wine lists and in shops as Bordeaux or Rhône, and that wine lovers recognize that every white wine style made exists is in Alsace and is readily available.

I’m doing my part in drinking Alsace, I hope you are too!

 

My favorite quote from the show...

“For me the luxury of a wine producers is not to drive a Ferrari or to dress Chanel, it’s to be able to skip a wine if the vintage is not good enough, and that’s exactly what we’re doing…and the only reason we can do that is because we are family owned. If you belong to a big financial group, it’s over”
(32:15)

*All photos from https://www.domaines-schlumberger.com 

 

________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). 

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

And to sign up for classes (now for UK and Euro time zones!) please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

 

Don't forget the bookplate offer for the book: 

Nov 16, 2020
Ep 350: Alsace's Famed Domaine Paul Blanck with Phillippe Blanck
01:02:37

Building off Episode 343 on Alsace and the Alsace class I taught, Phillippe Blanck of the famed Domaine Paul Blanck joins to talk about his family’s 420-year history in wine, the uniqueness of Alsace and its sites, and how we need to reorient wine to tasting and sensation versus elitist words. You will learn volumes about Alsace, terroir, history, and taste from this wise, very tuned-in, wonderful man.

 

The Blanck wine story starts in 1610 when Phillippe’s Austrian relative, Hans Blanck acquired vines in Alsace. 420 years later, Domaine Blanck continues the legacy. Phillippe operates the Domaine with his cousin Frederic. Frederic is the king of the vineyard and cellar and Phillippe is the master communicator and business person. With just 24 ha/59 acres of land, Domaine Paul Blanck makes some of the most distinctive, terroir driven, yet affordable wines in Alsace. And Phillippe tells us all about it.

 

Here are the show notes:

  • Phillippe tells us the story of his family in Alsace. He discusses the character of the people and the wines, and how they evolved with French and German influence over the centuries. He discusses his grandfather, Paul Blanck who (with the help and advice of Burgundy producers) fought for recognition of Grand Cru sites and wines of terroir. They got assistance from Champagne producers to push through the Crémant appellation in the 1970s, and the family was also instrumental in getting distinctions for the late harvest wines – Vendange Tardive and Seleccion de Grains Noble (We also clarify that the Blanck family is large, made up of many, many distant cousins, so many Alsace wines and domaines may bear the name – Paul Blanck is the one we are discussing).

  • Phillippe talks about innovation in Alsace and how very important it is to encourage young producers to push the envelope here, even if it defies tradition in some ways.

 

  • We discuss the various Grand Cru of Blanck and how about 1/3 of the vines are moved into the basic AOC Alsace wine because the vines, although growing on ideal sites, are too young for the Grands Crus. This means their base tier wines are rich, and possess more terroir-driven character than many wines of the region.

 

  • Phillippe gives an excellent explanation about the differences between Grand Cru wines and general AOC wines. He talks about the broader picture of Alsace wine– that it is not just orthodoxy of soil, but the unending permutations of styles available that make the wine confounding and exciting. These top tier wines are special because the sensation and precision of each and how they reflect the land and also the skill of the winemaker and what they want to show. A good Grand Cru is “readable”, according to Phillippe, it needs to say something and the winemaker must have a good understanding of the terroir to be the translator. Domaine Blanck’s famed wines are those of Schlossberg and Furstentum with other wines in Sommerbourg and Mambourg.

  • I ask about the criticism of the Grand Cru system – many critics complain that there are too many Grand Cru sites without merit in Alsace that are undeserving of their status. Phillippe gives another way to look at this – he feels that there are certain sites that have no lead producer or flagship wine. Without those things the wines can’t achieve status even if the site is great. He uses the example of Andre Ostertag, who brought the Grand Cru Muenchberg to great renown in the last few decades through his innovative wines and labeling.

 

  • We talk shop a bit – Phillippe discusses the sweetness preferences of various countries (the US likes bone dry wines, the Netherlands like wines sweeter), the importance of having an excellent based tier wine to introduce people to your brand, and how wine scores and wine fashion is a bit meaningless. Phillippe gives us a tip: for industrial wine, the lower the price, the lower the quality. This is the opposite for terroir wine.

  • Phillippe discusses his other utterly fascinating passion – the Chinese art of Qigong (chi kung), that focuses on meditation, breathing, and calm for self-cultivation and positive energy flow. He has been a teacher of Qigong for 20 years and has applied the ideas to wine – he believes wine should be felt in your soul and described in sensation or “touch” terms, creating a universal language that people can relate to and using terms that evoke emotion rather than staid traditional aromatic terms.

 

This was a great show. I encourage you to check out the Alsace class that I taught. It’s on YouTube and free for all.

*All photos from the Domaine Blanck website. 

 

________________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). 

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

And to sign up for classes (now for UK and Euro time zones!) please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Nov 10, 2020
Ep 349: Mas Martinet - A Founding Domaine of Priorat with Sara Perez, Owner
57:17

There are five founding estates of the Priorat region of Spain. Mas Martinet was the first and in this show, brilliant, philosophical owner Sara Peréz discusses its history, philosophy, and how she sees the land and wines of this magical, mystical region.

This woman is a role model for us all -- she has found true happiness in her part of the world, her work, and her life!

Here are the show notes:

  • Mas Martinet, originally owned and run by Josep Lluis Peréz, Sara's father, was one of 'los Closos', the group of five people and families that settled in Priorat and worked together from 1981 to change and revive the Priorat wine region and make it the legendary wine it has become (they are: Clos Mogador, Palacios, Clos Erasmus, Clos de l'Obac, Mas Martinet). Sara runs the winery and has brought Mas Martinet down new and exciting paths that have only made the wines more interesting, modern, and terroir driven. 


  • Sara tells us about her dad and mom,  who moved from teaching into setting up an enology school and then starting Mas Martinet after much study of the terroir by the pupils (as Sara calls them!) to help examine the best soils, slopes, and sun exposures for each grape type.


  • We learn about things used to be in Priorat -- abandoned vineyards, Carignan growing on the flats, Garnacha on the slopes, and lots of empty land with few people staying to farm it. We discuss schist and the famed black slate licorella soil (pic here from Mas Martinet):

  • Sara and I address tradition versus market appeal and why some French grapes were introduced into Priorat. We discuss the high alcohol levels (she discusses a 2001 trip to visit Didier Dageneau in the Loire and her shock at how high he was allowing his alcohol levels to become. This made her want to make a different kind of wine). 

 

  • Sara's commitment to organic viticulture and holistic farming rather than using anything that will harm the land is powerful. She uses herbs as cover crop to stop erosion on steep slopes, she doesn't spray -- even in the worst of years (she lost 86% of her crop this year), and she believes that small changes collectively can stop climate change. 

 

  • We discuss the top grapes of Priorat -- Carignan and Garnacha. Sara tells us how she creates Mas Martinet's three  flagship wines to pay homage to all styles of Priorat:

 

    • Clos Martinet is the original wine made my Mas
      Martinet. It includes Garnacha, Carignan, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah and is aged in lightly toasted oak, as it always has been since her father created the wine. 

    • Els Escurçons pays homage to the sharp hillsides
      covered in licorella slate that were once abandoned when people left for cities. This wine is their most expensive, aromatic, and is 100% Grenache, and is elegant and light, as only Sara can make it in Priorat.


    • Cami Pesseroles is Sara's homage to the wines madeby the farmers who stayed in Priorat after the wealthy gentry moved to cities. They grew Carignan lower down on the slopes. This wine has a significant proportion of old vine Carignan, which is heavy and powerful but still has the light touch that Sara is known for. 


    • We mention the Mas Martinet Bru and Menut -- both which are affordable invitations into the wines of Mas Martinet
             

 

  • Sara tells us about her winemaking philosophies -- how oak can mask the essence of a wine, her willingness to experiment with amphora, glass, cement, and to make orange wine. 

 

 

Sara Peréz's overarching message is that Priorat is a place of mysticism, with elements in the land and the soil that you can't find anywhere else. It is a place that needs to be experienced and that can bring you great peace and calm, as can the wines when they are made in concert with the land. 

I can't wait to go visit! 

_____________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). 

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

And to sign up for classes (now for UK and Euro time zones!) please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

Nov 03, 2020
Ep 348: The Mâconnais of Burgundy
52:12

The Mâconnais is the southernmost area of Burgundy, known for excellent Chardonnay. Although it's often overshadowed by the other parts of Burgundy and only given credit for AOC Pouilly-Fuissé, this picturesque and historic Chardonnay-dominated region has some of exciting appellations you should seek out to see what Mâcon is capable of (hint: a lot, at great prices to boot!)


Source: Vins de Bourgogne

 

Here are the show notes: 

Mâcon location:

  • The Mâconnais is located between the Côte Chalonnaise and Beaujolais in Burgundy. It is a transitional area between the north and south of France, where the climate starts to warm a bit, and plusher, fuller styles of wine are possible.
  • The vineyards are on a long strip between two valleys split by the Saône River in the east as it flows south to meet the Rhône and Grosne River in the west.
  • The Mâconnais has 3,345.82 ha/8,268 acres of vineyard over rolling hills that intersperse with pastures, orchards and other agriculture.
  • Chardonnay represents 80% of all vines planted in the region. Reds are made of Gamay and Pinot Noir. Mâcon covers wines of white, red, and rosé.

 

 

History

  • Vines have been here since Gallo-Roman times but viticulture took off with the Abbey of Cluny, a Benedictine monastery founded in AD 910. These monks were dedicated to viticulture and were responsible for spreading it all over Europe: The order of monks from Cluny at its height had 20,000 monks in 2,000 dependent monasteries from Portugal to Poland. In response to the success of Cluny, the Cistercian Abbey of Cîteau, equally influential in wine, began in 1098.The monastic influence lasted through 15th -16th centuries, but as that tradition waned, so did the demand for wines from the homeland at Cluny in the Mâconnais.
  • Historically reds were favored for wine (there is a lot of Gamay, since Mâcon was not part of the Duchy of Burgundy and hence it was never outlawed to grow it here as it was farther north), but whites began to increase in popularity after phylloxera in the 1870s. Still, even in 1952, over 60% of the wine was red

 

Mâcon Location/Land

  • The Mâcon is separated by a series of parallel faults, many vineyards like on north/north-westerly or south/south-easterly exposure. To the southwest of the town of Tournus,there are little valleys that are great for vines. To the south the hills open to an area that has two rocky outcrops, the most important being Vergisson and Solutré – the lower slopes of these rocky peaks is the best area in the Mâcon. Soils range from limestone to flinty clay with sandstone pebbles, and schist. This is a sunny area with warm summers and a risk of spring frosts.

Source: Vins de Bourgogne

 

The Appellations 

Mâcon Appellation

  • This broad appellation makes red, white, and rosé from anywhere in the Mâconnais. The main grapes are Chardonnay for white, and Gamay and Pinot Noir for the reds and rosés, although most of the Pinot Noir is used for general AOC Bourgogne rouge. Lots of other regional wines are sourced from here – Crémant, Bourgogne Passe-tout-grains and Bourgogne Aligoté. Since many wines classify for the higher specificity Mâcon-Villages, the Mâcon appellation is used far less. They are easy drinkers -- the white is Chardonnay, red Gamay and Pinot Noir.

 


Macon-Villages

  • If a wine is harvested within a specific commune, producers can use the word Villages on the label. The best comes from a delimited region of dozens of villages in the southern section of the Mâcon – from the town of Chardonnay down to the border with Beaujolais.
  • The limited amount of red is mainly Gamay and is fruity, violet scented, and fill. The reds are simple and easy to drink. The rosés have similar flavors to the reds, but are acidic yet mouth filling. Mâcon Villages Blanc are reliable Chardonnays with good acidity and honeysuckle, apple, and some grassy/shrubby notes. Like everything in the Mâconnais, the flavors will vary based on village/terroir and the winemaker.
  • A higher and more reliable version of Mâcon-Villages is Mâcon plus the name of the village. These include:
    • Lugny, Mancey, Milly, Lamartine, Péronne, Pierreclos, Prissé, La Roche-Vineuse, Serrières, Saint-Gengoux-le-National, Verzé.
    • Best villages are usually Lugny or Prissé
  • A lot of wine sold to big merchants. Good producers: Joseph Drouhin, Louis Latour, Verget

 

 

Pouilly Fuissé

  • AOC Pouilly-Fuissé was created in 1936. It was well known as an excellent collection of sites and regulators chose land for the appellation that was covered in the best soil -- clay with limestone base. It was decided that there would be no Premier Crus and there are none to this day.
  • Pouilly-Fuissé is a large appellation: 1,871 acres of vineyard land, which yield about 400,000 cases per year. Located between the cliffs of Solutré and Vergisson lie the villages: Solutré-Pouilly, Fuissé, Vergisson and Chaintré. They vary in rainfall, climate, altitude but the best vines grow on lower slopes of the two cliffs, where sun exposure and diurnals are ideal. Slopes face east and southeast and some are northwest facing and rise to altitudes of 200m/650 ft to 300m/984 ft.
  • The wines range greatly in this appellation both because of varied terroir, and because of diverse winemaking techniques. The best is known to be a little smoky not from oak, but from terroir. The Chardonnays can range in flavor – those aged in stainless steel or concrete egg are like apple, citrus, and peach with good acidity. If oak aged and quite ripe, they may be more like honey, pineapple, nuts, and butter. In bad examples, the oak overcomes the fruit. Some are ull and rich in flavor and soft in texture, and can have alcohol levels exceeding 14% ABV.

Top Producers: Olivier Merlin, Jean Rijckaert, Chateau Fuissé, Verget


Source: Vins de Bourgogne, BIVB / Michel JOLY

 Pouilly-Loché

  • One of the smallest of appellations Bourgogne in terms of land, this is an historic area with an east-facing hillside overlooking the Saône. There are some older soils north of the village of Loché with schist and sandstone, and in the south there is heavier, mineral rich soil. Although these Chardonnay-based wines are floral and peachy, and can be acidic and refreshing, the quality and flavor varies because the terroir varies so much.

 

Pouilly-Vinzelles

  • This appellations shares an East-facing slope with Chaintré (in Pouilly-Fuissé appellation) and is near the big rock of Solutré. Much like Pouilly-Loché, soils vary – so the wine will taste different depending on whether the vines are planted on upper or lower slopes. They are similar to those of Pouilly-Loché, but can take on fuller brioche and almond notes if from those heavier soil types and if oak aged. Older wines (5+years) can even gain mushroom and earth notes.

 

 

Saint-Véran AOC: A top appellation and a great value

  • Gaining its AOC in 1971, Saint-Véran forms a belt around Pouilly-Fuissé. It is 1,590 acres, slightly smaller than Pouilly-Fuissé, which splits Saint-Véran into two areas, both of which lie on the slopes of the rock of Solutré. The old fossilized limestone soils on the west side create lighter wines than those on the eastern slopes, which are made up of marly limestone, clay, and flint. Lower in altitude than others, with some flat areas, parts of Saint-Véran overlap Beaujolais, particularly St. Amour (a cru of Beaujolais), which usually uses the Saint-Véran appellation for its whites.
  • These wines are acidic with smoke, white flower, peach, pear, and pineapple aromas and flavors. Oak can make the wine a bit nutty nuttiness. These wines are a bit zippier than those of Pouilly-Fuissé

Top Producers:  La Soufrandiere, Domaine Cordier

Source: Vins de Bourgogne,BIVB / Aurélien IBANEZ

 

Viré-Clessé - High quality appellation

  • A high-quality appellation formed from the top two of the Mâcon-Villages, Viré and Clessé, this appellation is a baby – it was created in 1999. With limestone hills and chalky clay soils, these vines grow on hills and include white wines of Chardonnay only. The wines range from smoky and balsamic to citrusy, herbal, minty, and acidic. There can be oak treatment on the wines, which can add notes of nuts and butter, but these are generally acidic, great value Chardonnay (good ones start under US$20).

Top Producers: Domaine de la Bongran, Domaine Andre Bonhomme, Domaine des Heritiers, Chanson

 

Source: Vins de Bourgogne, BIVB / www.armellephotographe.com

Here is a great video on the Mâconnais from Vins de Bourgogne

 

_________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

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  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
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Oct 27, 2020
Ep 347: The Grape Miniseries -- Viognier
43:02

Saved from the brink of extinction just 50 years ago, Viognier (pronounced vee-ohn-yay), is a white grape that's native to the Northern Rhône in France – mainly the areas of Condrieu and Ampuis. The grape produces effusive wines with a strong aromatic character -- peaches, apricots, flowers, herbs, and ginger are common -- and when made well it has a medium body with a touch of acidity and a pleasant bitterness. This week we continue the grape mini-series (maxi series now?) by exploring this comeback kid and the pleasure it can bring when in the right hands. 

 

History

Viognier's parentage is a bit ambiguous, but it is related to Mondeuse Blanche, which makes it either a half sibling or grandparent of Syrah (as MC Ice points out, we could definitely make a word problem out of this – it’s a brain twister to think about, but possible!). The grape is also tied to Freisa and may be related to Nebbiolo, both which are native to the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy.

 

 

 

Viognier was once grown pretty widely in the northern Rhône but the combination of the phylloxera outbreak in the mid- and late-19th century, followed by WWI, the Depression, and WWII drove a lot of growers to cities and left vineyards abandoned. By 1965, only about 30 acres (12 hectares) of Viognier vines remained in France, and the variety was nearly extinct.

 

In the mid-1980s, interest started to grow both in France and from winegrowers in Australia and California. Growing interest lead to more plantings and today the grape is grown in Condrieu, Chateau Grillet, and Côte Rôtie in the Northern Rhône, all over the southern Rhône for blends, the Languedoc in southern France, as well as in North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Israel, Japan, Switzerland, and Spain.

 (C)Wine For Normal People Book map

Climate and Vineyard

  • Viognier needs a long, warm growing season to fully ripen, but not so hot it develops excessive levels of sugar before its aromatic notes can develop. Viognier must get ripe to allow flavor to develop and that happens late, often after sugars develop.
  • Viognier is a small thick-skinned berry with good resistance to rot. It does well on acidic, granite soils. Older vines – more than 30 or 50 years old are best for the grape.
  • There are at least two clones of Viognier. The older, original one from Condrieu is highly aromatic and tight clustered. The other is healthier, higher yielding and looks and tastes different according to some. This clone, likely made at the University of Montpellier, is widespread in Australia.

 

Winemaking begins in the vineyard – picking decision is vital:

  • Pick too early and the grape has no flavor, and makes a flat wine. Pick too late the wine is flabby and oily. Must be ripe but not overripe, with lower yields.
  • Although it is likely best to make the wine in stainless or neutral oak with perhaps some skin contact for a few hours before fermenting, the barrel fermentations, malolactic fermentations, and aging on lees can squash the unique flavor and scent of Viognier.

 

Flavors and Styles

  • Viognier is like peach, apricot, clementine, honeysuckle, chamomile, jasmine, thyme, pine, spice, ginger, crème fraiche, and honey with a full body and can be oily, or sometimes a bit bitter. It is low in acidity. When aged in oak it tastes like vanilla bean and with malolactic fermentation it is creamy and custard-like. It is almost always high in alcohol, with 14.5% ABV being common. The best Viognier from France often doesn’t age, and even loses aromas after a few years in the bottle. Some of the styles from Australia and the US, which have been aged in oak, last a few more years.

  • The grape is often bottled as a single variety but can be blended with Roussanne, Marsanne, and Grenache Blanc.
  • We didn’t mention this in the show, but the wine can be off-dry or even late harvest and sweet. Condrieu and Château-Grillet produce sweet wines in warmer years.

 

Regions...

France

Northern Rhône: Viognier is grown as single variety in Rhône appellations Condrieu and Château Grillet on right (west) bank of Rhône River. In Côte Rôtie, winemakers can include up to 20% of Viognier though most growers add no more than 5%.

Condrieu

  • Includes seven communes along 14 miles, and makes wines that are usually dry, delicious young, and very aromatic wit structure. The area includes steep hillside vineyards, that face south-southeast to maximize morning sun, not hot evening sun. The soils are granite with a deep sandy topsoil called arzelle. This soil makes the best wine. Yields must be low, and picking must be after the grape has full aromatics.
  • Top producers: Guigal, Rostaing, Delas, Pierre Gaillard, Vernay, Francois Villard

 

Chateau Grillet

  • This appellation is owned by one producer, it is a monopole. It is just 7.6 acres/3.08 ha on granite soil with mica – making the wines higher in acid. Vines are 80+ years old and although the area seems ideal, there have been problems with wine quality. Recently the owner of Château Latour of Bordeaux acquired the monopole; there’s hope for restoration of its former glory.

          

Côte Rôtie

  • We did a whole podcast on this area, but north of Condrieu is Côte Rôtie, a Syrah appellation that can include up to 20% Viognier in the wine (in reality it’s more like 5%). Viognier helps darken the color of the Syrah in co-pigmentation but it takes up valuable real estate so it’s not used as much as it could be.

Other French areas: The southern Rhône, where it is blended, the Languedoc and Ardeche, where it makes serviceable Vins de Pays varietal or blended wines.

 

Other Europe: Switzerland, Austria, Italy

 

New World

Australia

  • Yalumba was the pioneer producer in South Australia’s Eden Valley in 1979. The Virgilius is their top wine (aged in oak).
  • McLaren Vale, Barossa, Adelaide Hills, Heathcote, Geelong, Central Victoria, and more grow the grape, which is a challenge to growers because it stays flavorless for much of the growing season and then transforms into something delicious – patience is a virtue!
  • One of the best uses for Viognier in Australia is its blends with Shiraz:
    • Clonakilla (Canberra), Yering Station (Yarra), Torbreck (Barossa)

 

United States

California

  • Viognier came in 1980s to California when John Alban (Alban Vineyards in Edna Valley), Josh Jensen of Calera (Central Coast), and Joseph Phelps (Napa), brought it into the United States in small quantities. The plantings and interest grew as a group of producers dedicated to growing Rhône varieties, called the Rhône Rangers, grew in numbers and popularity. Today California has more than 3,000 acres of Viognier.
  • Yields are high compared to France, the wines can often be overblown if grown in too-hot weather but the greatest examples are full-bodied and rich.
  • Top Producers: Tablas Creek, Crux, Qupé, Alban, Calera, Kunde

 

Virginia

  • Viognier is a signature grape of Virginia because the thick skins of the grape work well in the humidity and the diurnals of the mountains mean Viognier can ripen but maintain acidity over a long growing season. The typical VA Viognier has great fruit, slight bitterness, medium body and good acidity.
  • Top producers: Barboursville, King Family, Horton

  • Other US: Oregon, Washington (we mention ABEJA), Texas
  • Around the World: New Zealand, South Africa, South America (Argentina has a lot, Chile some – all young plantings)

 

Food: The wine is great with dishes that have rosemary, thyme, saffron, and creamy sauces.

 

Expect to spend more than $50 a bottle for good Viognier (we had the 2017 version of the Guigal below. It was US$50).

 

___________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
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I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). 

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

Oct 20, 2020
Ep 346: Port Wine
59:06

Port is an historical, complex, and sometimes confusing wine, but it is more than worth your time to learn about. M.C. Ice go over everything from the vineyards of the Douro, to the history of this wine (with geopolitical implications), to how it's made, and the array of styles. There's something for everyone in the world of Port and after this show, you should be able to figure out which is for you!

Here is the written primer to go along with the show...

The Basics: What is Port?

Port is a Portuguese fortified wine, meaning you add distilled grape spirit, or brandy, to the wine at some point during production. A wine is technically only Port if grapes are from the Douro Valley in northeast Portugal and winemaking takes place there or in the area surround the city of Porto on the Atlantic Coast. There are tons of styles and flavors of this wine – there’s something for everyone.

 

Douro Valley: The Vineyards

The Douro Valley wine region follows the path of the Douro River as it comes out of Spain into Portugal. The region goes west through rugged, remote, steep and terraced granite mountains of northern Portugal, past  the city of Porto into Atlantic Ocean. There are three official zones of the Douro Valley: the Baixo (lower) Corgo, the Cima (higher) Corgo and the Douro Superior

 

  • Baixo Corgo is the westernmost zone and is cool, rainy and the sub region with the most vineyards.Often these grapes are for cheap ruby and tawny Port
  • Cima Corgo  is upstream from the Baixo Corgo and is where the best vineyards for Port are located. Hotter and drier than Baixo, these excellent grapes are used for Vintage, Reserve, aged Tawny, and Late Bottled Vintage Ports
  • Douro Superior is the easternmost zone, going right up to the Spanish border. It has a lot of land but is least developed. It is the hottest, driest area, and a bit flatter

 

Land and Climate

The Douro has hot, dry summers and steep rocky hillsides bordering the Douro River and its tributaries. The thin, poor schist and granite soils force the grapes to dig deep into schist to look for water and force humans to build terraces to do viticulture: 2/3 of vineyard are on slopes with 30%+ grade.


The Grapes

  • Reds: Producers are permitted to use more than 80 red varieties but 5 are widely used: Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo), Tinta Cão. The best wines are blended from low yielding vines with grapes that are small with thick skins and good acidity levels. The grapes here, with the exception of Tempranillo, are indigenous and suited to the hot, dry conditions of the Douro. There is nothing else that tastes like these blends
  • Whites (30 allowed): Gouveio, Malvasia Fino, Moscatel, Vinosinho, Rabigato, Esgana-Cão (Sercial of Madeira, dog strangler), others

 

 

History of Port: Most of the information on Port was on Taylor Fladgate’s excellent site.

  

Winemaking: The Steps

  1. Grow grapes in Douro. The IVDP (Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto– Port and Douro Wines Institute)uses the beneficio system (similar to the Échelle des Crus in Champagne) to classify vineyards with a grade that will determine the quantity of Port Wine that can be made from each parcel.  
  2. Put the grapes in a vat (different varieties are usually co-fermented). Stomp them by foot or press them and then start fermentation. When you get to the sugar level you want in the finished wine, run the wine out of the lagar into a vat. To that runoff of juice, add aguardente to kill the yeast and stop fermentation, leaving some sweetness. The resulting wine is usually 19% to 20% alcohol


  3. Let the wine chill out in Douro until spring, evaluate it for what style of Port it will make and then take the wine to lodges at Vila Nova de Gaia near the city of Porto to be blended, aged, bottled and then sold.
  4. The real magic is in the ageing…

 

Ageing & Port Styles

Ports differ because of the quality of the vineyards/grapes, the makeup of the blend, and the ageing regimens they go through. Age softens the bitter, astringent tannins and with time older Ports become brownish in color, soft in tannin, and full of interesting aromas and flavors.

 

Port is classified by how long and WHAT it’s aged in: Wood or bottle

  • Wood Aged Port is matured in wooden barrels. They’re permeable to air so this is called oxidative aging. These wines lose color faster than bottle aged Ports.
  • Bottle Aged Port is aged in barrel for 2 or fewer years. It then goes into a bottle and the buyer ages it in their own cellar. Vintage Port, the finest of all Ports, is made this way.

 

Styles of Port

Fruity, dark colored Ports: Ruby, LBV

  1. Ruby Port is, not surprisingly, ruby red in color. Looking to maintain color and its full cherry and black fruit notes, this wine goes through very little oxidation before release. It can age up to 3 years in wood or another vessel that allows small amounts of air in. It is generally sweet, cheap, and is the most widely produced style (because from a cost perspective – it’s as turn-and-burn as it gets in Port – not inventory holding costs). Special Ruby Ports are:
  • Reserve: This is where the term reserve actually matters! These wines are better quality, age for slightly longer, and more rounded, full-bodied and complex
  • Rosé: Like any rosé, this type of Ruby Port is in contact with the skins for a shor period of time to obtain the pink color. This is a new type of Port and best chilled with ice

 

  1. Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) Port is always from a single vintage year, always bottled after spending 4 to 6 years in a wood vat of some sort, and is a dark purple-ish color, full-bodied, and is a little like drinking a young Vintage Port but without bottle ageing and from less good vineyards. This is the Port I usually drink – it’s predictable, tasty, and a great value for what it is. There are two subcategories here:
  • Bottle Matured Port: Is generally a higher quality LBV that ages in bottle for at least 3 years before release
  • These can come filtered and fined, unfiltered and unfined or in a few other variations. Unfiltered and unfined may throw more sediment.

Food Pairings with these fruity Ports: Brie with Ruby, cheddar with Reserve, tangy cheese with LBV (goat). Chocolate desserts for all that have sweetness.

 

Nutty, dried-fruit, woodsy flavored Port:

 

  1. Tawny Port in theory is made from red grapes, for a long amount of time that will cause gradual oxidation and evaporation, changing the color of the wine to a brownish TAWNY color, rather than purple or ruby. These wines are known for more secondary notes of nuts, dried fruit, smoke, and sometimes oak. With lots of age they can be like honey or even maple syrup. Often lots of different wines have aged for different lengths of time in casks or in vats are blended to reach the house style. They can be sweet or medium dry or dry. These wines are ready to drink when they are bottled.

TYPES of Tawny

  • Tawny (No age): Basic blend of wood-aged wine that has usually spent 3+ years in a seasoned cask so they don’t taste oak aged. The reality is that cheap versions of these contain unripe grapes that lack color, the addition of White Port to lighten color, or commonly, carmelized grape must that can add desired color and flavor.
  • Reserve: From a blend of wines aged 5-7 years. From better vineyards than regular Tawny, these have more nuttiness, vanilla notes, and complex fruit flavor.
  • Tawnies with an indication of age – These are blends of several vintages to get target color, flavor, and aroma. The best versions include very old wines but many large brands just aim for a “target age profile.” This is a flavor they aim to get (that yummy old wine flavor, I guess?) and the “target” is stated on the label -- 10, 20, 30 or 40 years. It’s not even an average of the ages of the wines used.
  • Colheita is a single-vintage Tawny, aged for at least 7 years and it has the vintage year on the bottle. Although it’s not a Vintage Port, if the idea of uncertainty around “20 year Tawny” bugs you, this is a more regulated wine. Also a more expensive one in many cases.

                                 

Food pairing with Tawnies: Cheese wins the day -- hard, aged cheeses like Pecorino or Parmesan and nut or cream-based desserts (Pecan pie, caramel or fruit based desserts,). Older Tawny pairs well with all that stuff, plus crème brulee, and honey- and nut-based desserts. Like most really old wines, really old Tawny should be consumed solo, chilled.

 

  1. Garrafeira is a rare vintage-dated Port that first goes through oxidative ageing for 3-6 years in wood and then is moved into huge glass demijohns for reductive aging for 8+ years.

 

  1. White Port is made solely from white grapes in very sweet, sweet, dry or extra dry styles (called Extra Seco, Seco, Doce and Lágrima). Reserve is aged slightly longer and is slightly better quality. These wines are great as cocktail mixers!

 

Bottle Aged Port:

  1. Vintage Port is one of the greatest wines in the world. Harvested during a single year and bottled two to three years after the vintage, it develops gradually for 10 to 50 years in the bottle. Each Port house decides whether to make a vintage declaration and the IVDP approves the declaration, which only happens 3 in 10 years. These wines are only a small percentage of the total production of Port. They are bottled relatively quickly and sold, for the buyer to hold and wait for the flavors to change in the bottle.
  • Great Vintages in the last 20 years: 2018, 2016, 2011, 2007, 2003, 2000, 1997, 1994
  • Single-Quinta Vintage Ports come from a single quinta, or estate. It is a very dark, full bodied red wine that becomes softer after ageing in bottle. It is the most terroir-expressive Port.

          
                        

 

  1. Crusted Port is high quality Port that’s a blend of wines from different harvests. Crusted Port is bottled after 2-3 years of ageing in wood. The wine throws a thick sediment deposit (crust) in the bottle so you need skill in decanting to get the wine out without the chunks! Some consider it bottle-aged, some consider it wood-aged but I think since it spends most of its time developing in the bottle, we’ll leave it here.

Food Pairing with Vintage and Crusted Ports: Blue cheese – Stilton or Roquefort are the traditional pairings for Vintage Port, as are nuts and dried fruit. A fine, old Vintage Port should be enjoyed alone.

 

Serving Tips:

  • 59–68 °F /15˚ and 20 °C is the ideal serving range Tawny port may also be served slightly cooler
  • Vintage Ports and Unfiltered Ports need to be decanted
  • Tawny, ruby, and LBV Ports may keep for several months once opened
  • Old Vintage ports are best consumed within several days of opening

 

Famed shippers (AKA Producers)

  • British influence remains: Broadbent, Cockburn, Croft, Dow, Gould Campbell, Graham, Osborne, Offley, Sandeman, Taylor-Fladgate, and Warre
  • Dutch: Niepoort
  • Portuguese origins: Ferreira and Quinta do Crasto, Quinta do Noval

_____________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

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Oct 12, 2020
Ep 345: CVNE -- A Rioja Legend with CEO Victor Urrutia
58:19

In the show, I welcome Victor Urrutia, the CEO of the Compañia Vinícola del Norte de España (CVNE) one of the most famed bodegas in Rioja, which has been around since 1879. Victor is part of the 5th generation of a family that has run CVNE (said coo-NAY) for 141 years. We discuss the storied history of this classic, traditional, high quality bodega, and probe into a dozen other Rioja-related topics.

Victor and I cover many subjects, and I was thrilled to have him - it’s been really hard for me to find Spanish producers to come on the show and he comes from one of the most historic, classic, and outstanding bodegas in Rioja (I drink A LOT of CVNE!). Here’s a high level of what you’ll find in the show: 

 

  1. Victor tells us the story of his family in Rioja and in wine, and his circuitous route to becoming a leader that combines a progressive attitude with a strong respect for tradition.

 

  1. We dork out on the Rioja region. Victor tells us all about what is important and what is not in the world of Rioja wine. We discuss the three major regions (Alta, Alavesa, Baja/Oriental) and how they differ in geography, grape types, and traditions.

  1. We hit on climate, climate change, and the land that surrounds Rioja

 

  1. Victor compares Rioja to Champagne (at first I was skeptical, but I see his point now and you will too) and the movement towards single vineyard wines to the grower movement. We have a nerdy discussion about Italians in Barolo, the French in Champagne, and the Riojanos and how all these regions share much common ground (I promise, it comes together!).

  2. Victor tells us about the differences between the four brands under the CVNE umbrella in short:
    • CVNE is the flagship brand. Grapes come from both Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa, and from warmer and cooler climates to make highly drinkable, tasty wine. CVNE is made every year, and is made in a traditional style. It is a classic Rioja which changes with vintage, but never wavers on quality.
    • Imperial is Reserva and Gran Reserva only. These wines are structured, excellent for aging, and only made in the best years from estate grown fruit in Rioja Alta. First made in the 1920s, these wines are the benchmark style of classic Rioja for many familiar with the region.
    • Viña Real was also launched in the 1920s, but it is more fruit forward, has a stronger new oak component and a higher percentage of Garnacha to make it more fruit forward and “modern” in style. Grapes come from Rioja Alavesa.

    • Contino is CVNE’s single vineyard brand, established in 1973. These wines are reflective of the site in Rioja Alavesa and are usually more fruit forward and powerful than either Imperial or Viña Real.
    • Monopole is the white wine we mention, that has a portion of Sherry blended in, representing the old school style. It’s outstanding.

 

We end with a few business questions about how Spain invested to become such a force in the modern wine world, the future of Rioja if Alavesa (which is located squarely in Basque country) was to separate from the larger region, and the plans for CVNE, which involve never being satisfied and always doing better (an excellent goal).

 

This is a lively, unique look at Rioja. Take a listen then try these wines – I have been a pretty loyal drinker for years and I can promise that if you like Rioja, these will wow you!

 

And register for current classes at:  www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes _____________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

 

Oct 05, 2020
Ep 344: Wines for Transitional Weather (Spring and Fall)
41:06

During transitions to cooler or warmer weather, what should you drink? I am a firm believer that we should drink wines appropriate for the seasons: crisp, acidic wines for warm weather & fuller, more alcoholic ones for cool temps. This show covers both!

 

And without further ado, here are the "slides" for which M.C. Ice spent the better half of the podcast making fun of me! These will serve as the show notes this week.

 

Transitional Whites and Rosés: 

 

 

 

Transitional Red Wines: 

 

During the show I mention the class I taught on Alsace. You can find it here:  The Wine For Normal People YouTube channel

And register for current classes at:  www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes _____________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

 

Sep 29, 2020
Ep 343: The Exquisite Wines of Alsace with Thierry Fritsch of the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins d’Alsace (CIVA)
01:03:02

In this show, we welcome Thierry Fritsch, the head oenologist and chief wine educator of the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins d’Alsace (CIVA), the regional wine regulatory and promotional body of the Alsace wine region. Born and raised in Alsace, Thierry is an agricultural engineer and oenologist, and has an MBA from the Business School of Lyon. Prior to joining the CIVA in 1997, he worked as Chef de Cave for Pierre Sparr and Josmeyer in Alsace.  

Thierry is a lively and fascinating guest. He shared so much about the region and the innovations in the works! Below are the show notes:

  • Thierry tells us about his background and about the history of Alsace. We discuss how his grandfather changed nationalities 5 times in his life (!). We talk about how the epic tennis match, as I call it, between Germany and France (with Alsace as the ball) shaped the region culturally and from a grape and wine standpoint.

 

  • We discuss one of the unique factors about Alsace – that winemaking families here have been involved longer than any other region in France – for 13, 14, or even 15 generations. Thierry tells us about the wine families’ strong passion for the region and how that has led to a focus on quality and sustainability and organic and biodynamics in the vineyard (Alsace is 25% organic, the leader in France)

  • Thierry tells us about the climate and land of Alsace – the effect of the Vosges Mountains, how the area is one of the driest and sunniest in France, how climate changed has pushed harvest up by a month and a half, and Alsace’s secret sauce is its 13 different soil types, each yielding different wine types. Thierry tells us of the three main terroir types in Alsace – the slopes of the Vosges, the foothills, and the flats – and how, as with all hillside regions in France, foothills/mid slope are best, followed by slopes and then the flats, which are used for everyday wines.

 

  • The current appellation system in Alsace (AOC Alsace, plus 51 Grand Cru) is quite simple now, but Thierry shares some exciting developments that are in the works and will happen in the next decade (with the INAO, the French regulatory body, it takes a very long time) – new tiers in the AOC that include villages and a premier cru level.

 

  • We end by talking about the beautiful wines. Thierry describes the main wines of Alsace and what makes them so special: Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Muscat, Pinot Noir, and the very popular Crémant d’Alsace.

  • One of the issues with Alsace in recent years has been producers making sweet wines without indicating it on the bottle. Beginning next year the sweetness scale will be on every bottle, to indicate Sec (dry), demi-sec (off-dry), moelleux (semi-sweet), and doux (sweet).

 

To learn more about Alsace, visit: https://www.vinsalsace.com/en/

 

During the show I mention the class I’m teaching on Alsace. You can register for that at www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes if you’re reading this before September 25, 2020 and catch it on my YouTube channel afterwards!

_____________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

 

Sep 22, 2020
Ep 342: Jane Anson on her book "Inside Bordeaux", a fresh look at this classic region
56:47

In this show award-winning writer, the foremost authority on Bordeaux, and one of the nicest, most talented people in wine, Jane Anson returns to the show (she was also in Ep 155 and Ep 165).

This year she launched her opus, Inside Bordeaux, a must-have book that she took 3 years to research and write. It provides a comprehensive look at the region’s true strengths – it’s terroir, farming, grapes, and land, rather than pretty buildings and rich people.

 

The book came out in May and was published by UK merchant Berry & Bros & Rudd and you can find it at specialty retailers all over the world (click this link to learn where).

 

Here are the topics we cover in the show:

  • Jane discusses the background of the book, how she did the research, and some of the great stories she uncovered in her time exploring Bordeaux and looking at it through a different lens.


  • We have a very honest conversation about how Bordeaux has strayed from its farming and agricultural roots – how this has been good, and less good -- and talk about some ideas on what needs to change to create a shift from glitz to substance and land.


  • Jane tells us about some of the best appellations that are less well-known, how to use the book to figure out wines that will overdeliver for the price based on where they are grown, and the regions she thinks are most emblematic of the quality of Bordeaux on both banks (you’ll have to listen for her suggestions!).


  • We discuss one of the most amazing features of the book – extensive fold-out soil and land maps created with scientist Cornelis van Leeuwen. We talk about how they were created, and the value of having terroir matched up with chateaux so you can make assessments about what style a place produces based on its soil.

  • Jane gets us up to date on the climate challenges in Bordeaux and the innovative ways people are working with the land to overcome what Mother Nature doles out.

 

If you love Bordeaux and want to learn more this book MUST be on your shelf!

 

Links to things Jane mentions in the show:

 

I hope to see you in my live online wine classes. Register here: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes 

_____________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

Sep 14, 2020
Ep 341: The Grape Miniseries -- Gamay
43:36

This week we return to our grape miniseries to cover an old Burgundian variety, one of the 20 kids of Gouais Blanc and Pinot, that emerged around the 1300s. We cover its fascinating history; we talk about how it survived defamation by Dukes, centuries later became one of the most popular wines in the world (Beaujolais Nouveau), fell from grace and now is securing its place as a serious, multifaceted grape that makes complex, interesting wines (especially in its ancestral home of Beaujolais, France).

Here are the show notes:

The Gamay grape and its ideal terroir

  • Often called Gamay à Jus Blanc (Gamay with white juice) to distinguish it from 2 teinturiers (grapes with red juice) that mutated from it.
  • The grape is early budding, ripening, and not vigorous if grown on the right soils and in moderate temps.
  • Gamay is predominantly grown in the Beaujolais region, just south of Burgundy. Its highest expression is when it grows on granite soils in the northern area of Beaujolais, in 10 superior communes. These are, listed in order of lightest to heavy: Chiroubles, St. Amour, Fleurie, Régnié, Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Juliénas, Chénas, Morgon, Moulin à Vent

Source: www.discoverbeaujolais.com

Gamay Wines

  • Wines of Gamay are high in acidity, can be light or dark in color, can be rough in tannins or silky (all depends on terroir), have red berry, cherry, blackberry fruit notes, and stronger notes of flowers like violets, roses, and iris. I find they often have a note similar to a graham cracker, and they can show smoke or flint minerals aromas too.
  • The wines often are compared to Pinot Noir but they are brighter, a bit less complex and often show a delicate bitter note, which can be very satisfying with the right food.

 

Winemaking – the problem of carbonic maceration

  • Traditional or better quality Beaujolais, in particular, from the Cru or Beaujolais Villages are made in the traditional way wines are made (the quick and dirty: crush, macerate, ferment, oak age if desired, clean up, bottle) but Beaujolais Nouveau gets much of its flavor from a very quick vinification method that allows producers to take wine off the vines and have it be ready to sit on shelves within a few months’ time. This process is called carbonic maceration and it happens in lieu of crushing and macerating in the traditional way. The quick and dirty on it:
    • Whole bunches of grapes are put sealed vats that are blanketed with carbon dioxide (manual harvesting to ensure grapes aren’t broken during picking is important here)
    • Grapes at the bottom of the vat are crushed by weight of the grapes sitting on to top. The ones at the top aren’t crushed but the ones at the bottom release carbon dioxide
    • That carbon dioxide encourages fermentation within the juice that sits inside the skins of the grapes. But without oxygen and time, quick fermentation occurs and creates flavors like bubble gum and bananas.
    • And that’s what Beaujolais Nouveau usually tastes like!

Source: www.discoverbeaujolais.com

 

Most Gamay is grown in France, where it is the 7th most planted red variety

Beaujolais:

  • 2/3 of plantings of Gamay are in and around Beaujolais, where it makes up 98% of production
  • 12 appellations have Gamay as the primary grape– the 10 crus plus -- Beaujolais AOC Beaujolais Villages AOC
  • Again, the Cru are: Chiroubles, St. Amour, Fleurie, Régnié, Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Juliénas, Chénas, Morgon, Moulin à Vent

 

Other parts of France:

  • Burgundy: Grown mainly in the Mâconnais, just north of Beaujolais. The grape is used for Crémant de Bourgogne and is sometimes blended with Pinot Noir in a wine called Bourgogne Passetoutgrain
  • Loire: Gamay can be light, peppery, and aromatic when it ripens well. Most of it is grown around the city of Tours in the Cheverny, Coteaux de Vendômois and other nearby AOCs. The wines are vintage dependent and can be thin in bad years.
  • Savoie and the Rhône each have some minor plantings

Other areas with Gamay include:

  • Switzerland, where Gamay is mixed with Pinot Noir to create Dôle in Valais (Bourgogne Passetoutgrains in Burgundy)
  • Valle d’Aosta of northern Italy (not too far from Switzerland!)
  • Eastern Europe
  • New Zealand: I mention Te Mata as one I’ve had and loved
  • Australia: Some smaller, cooler areas of Victoria
  • Canada: Niagara Peninsula, Niagara on the Lake
  • The US: Texas, Michigan, New York State (Finger Lakes and Hudson Valley) and…
    • California: I tell the story of the original Charles F. Shaw and his love of Gamay (and how his winery failed and he sold his name to Freddie Franzia to become what is now… Two Buck Chuck). I also add that Valdiguié, a French grape so bad it’s not grown in France anymore, was confused with Gamay
    • Oregon: At the same latitude of Beaujolais, there is lots of potential with the right soils. The grapes here are, in fact, Gamay à Jus Blanc, and they make lovely examples of the grape.

For more information on Beaujolais, the Beaujolais appellation web site is wonderful (this is not sponsored, I just love the site!)

_________________________________________

 

Don't forget to sign up for my live online wine classes: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes 

_____________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

Sep 08, 2020
Ep 185, The Remake: 7 Types of (Non-Winery) Wine Clubs
37:10

Of all the shows in the catalog, one has always stuck out as not really fitting in so this week we’re scrapping the old and we’re replacing it with something that is related but more timely, relevant and just plain better!!

 

This week we discuss the pros and cons of the seven main types of wine clubs. We list a few specifics, but try hard to concentrate on various types of clubs and what you can expect from each.

 

Here is the run-down...

Wine clubs claim to do a few things for their customers:

  • Give access to exclusive discounts, free delivery, extras
  • Save you time by avoiding the wine shop
  • Allowing you the chance at discovery, or the removal of decision-making
  • Give you options on the way you want the club to work --how often, timing, how much to get
  • Many also give loyalty/rewards

We spend the bulk of the podcast going through the categories of wine clubs:

  1. Profile services ask you questions and claim to hone in on the types of wines you like. After taking a few of these quizzes, I found them to be completely inaccurate. Further, a lot of the stuff is no-name brands, so clearly bulk wine that is of dubious quality.

 

  1. Budget/bulk wine of meh wine that is marked up. A lot of this is wine produced in huge quantities that is poor quality and comes up on the bulk market for people to buy, bottle and market. Occasionally the bulk wine can have sugar or other additives put in to adjust the wine’s profile to the target customer.

    Other wines are in shiners, finished wines, often made by a decent winemaker who had too much wine or who bottled a lot that they didn’t think was quite up to snuff. Producers sell these bottles and the wine clubs make a one-shot deal brand that you’ll never see again. It can be great, but don’t fall in love – you’ll never see it again (and if you do, it could be different wine in the bottle next time!).

    Naked Wines, which is very popular, is a sub category of this – they ask for a monthly donation to keep their wine projects alive, and with that, you can buy bottles with your credits as you see fit (it’s similar to kickstarter but with an actual product you can buy!). In reality, Naked Wines is also mostly a clearing house for second wines/wines that aren’t good enough for the brand that is selling them.

  1. Media Wine Clubs: Wall Street Journal, New York Times, etc. lend their names to a marketing firm who manages the club and uses the name to get customers. These are often good deals, some of the wine is probably good, but the these wines are from giant distribution clearing houses who are trying to get rid of wines by marking them down. You may get an occasional good one that just didn’t sell in retail, but most is lower quality, bulk wine, or from shiners. The benefit of these – there is a lot of variety and they are CHEAP. The Wall Street Journal is a bit more transparent about its club, the New York Times says it has “experts who travel the world” looking for wines, but never tells us who those experts are, exactly.

  1. Curated clubs are those selected by real people – people who you could theoretically ask about the wines and talk to about them. Some come from wine shops who taste thousands of wines a year and have a good sense of what are good deals or what is best from their stores (I mention K&L and The Grand Tour from Verve) but they are also things like Plonk Wine Club, which provides exclusive access and carefully selected natural, biodynamic, and organic wines, and my favorite (and my sponsor!) Wine Access, whose team puts together themed wine club shipments of 6 bottles 4 times per year. Wine Access has true experts selecting the wines, and they pick based on quality and value, rather than what’s cheap and available on the wine market.

 

  1. Test tubes/wine flights: I should have mentioned the sample bottles, but I focused on the test tubes of Vinebox. It’s a good idea – you try nine wines :4 red, 4 white, 1 rosé. They come in a box with glass-sized pours. The wines are exclusive to the club and every box gives you credits towards buying full bottles, which are theoretically available on their site. There were a lot of complaints from members that they couldn’t get the full bottles. It’s clear to me that the wines are also in bulk – “exclusive” wines that are hard to get and never seen in a bottle – all red flags.

  1. Flash wine sites: Although not as popular as they used to be, and not exactly a club, these sites (WTSO and Cinderella Wines from Wine Library) sell real brands at low prices but they put you under the gun to buy – once they run out, you can’t get the deal. Fixed quantity, fixed price. They work straight with the importers of the wines or the families that make them, and they buy in enormous quantities so they are able to get great deals and pass them on. Again, not wine clubs, but in the same genre.

 

  1. Niche Wine Clubs: Do you like Oregon Pinot Noir? What about Kosher wine? Do you have to have vegan wine? If so, there is probably a club for whatever you desire. I think these are great – it can be hard to find exactly what you’re looking for and these clubs cater to special interests. The only caveat: make sure they are giving you good producers, and not junky bulk wine! It can happen even in niche-y products, you know!

I talk about my experience working as a consultant for a now defunct wine club (that was discussed in the OLD episode 185, so it wasn’t relevant anymore!) and how it has informed my view of clubs, in general.

 

The bottom line: Make sure you are asking the right questions: Questions to ask:

  • Are the wines geared to your taste? After a few shipments are they good or not so much?
  • Are you an experimenter or do you want the same wine you always get? That will help determine what kind of club you should join.
  • If it’s a curated model, who is the expert selecting the wine and why do you trust them? Also, Have you heard of the wines? Has anyone rated them ANYWHERE?
  • Is there a niche that you love but you can’t find the wines? Go for it. As long as the quality is high, this is your best chance of scratching your itch for specialty wine!
  • If you’re price sensitive, clubs can be a great value – again, just make sure you get a good one! Make sure to ask: Is shipping included? Taxes? What are the extra fees?
  • What do customer say about the customer service: Will they take returns or credit you for a skunked bottle?

 

As a last note, once you sign up, make sure you stay vigilant – changes can happen and you may not notice!

Lots more detail than just this, but these are the major points!

 

Don't forget to sign up for my live classes: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes 

_____________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

 

Aug 31, 2020
Ep 340: UK Wine and its Past, Present, and Future
52:51

Although limited in availability, English wine is rising in popularity. Climate change, bedrock soil that's similar to Champagne and Chablis, and growers with know-how have changed England from a producer of mainly plonk wine into a viable wine nation, with sparkling wine leading the charge.

Source: Decanter

 

Access in the US is limited, so admittedly this is more of an academic exercise, but in the show we discuss the history, as well as the present, and bright future of UK wine. 

 

After discussing the history (details which can be found here), we get into details of climate, regions, and styles of wines. Here are the show notes: 

Climate and land

  • Most of the wine regions in the UK are at 50˚ latitude and higher, making it hard to ripen grapes. Long daylight hours in the growing season, and temperature diurnals, however, lead to slow ripening and the development of aromatics -- all very positive for UK wine. 
  • The weather in the UK wine regions, although warmer and drier than all other parts of the UK, and warmer than it used to be, is still erratic -- with winds, rain, and humidity creating issues during flowering and harvest. 
  • There is limestone chalky soils in Sussex, Kent, Essex, and throughout Southern England – a great foundation on which to grow grapes used to produce sparkling wine

 

The grape varieties planted:

  • Pinot Noir 29.7%
  • Chardonnay 28.9%
  • Pinot Meunier 11%
  • Bacchus 6.9%
  • Seyval Blanc 4.2%

Image copyright Chapel Down 2019Image copyright Chapel Down 2019

  • A brief caveat:“British wine” and “English wine” are not the same thing!!!
    • A wine can only be called ‘English’ if it is made from grapes grown in England, ‘British’ wine can be made from grapes grown elsewhere, as long as it is fermented and bottled in the UK. Don't call English wine, British wine! 

 

Significant UK Wine Regions:

Sussex 

  • In the southeastern corner of England, along the English Channel.
  • The warmest, driest wine region, Sussex is known for high-quality sparkling and still wines. 
  • South Downs is especially of note, with limestone chalk soils and lots of calcareous rock.
  • Bacchus – the cross of a grape made from Silvaner x Riesling with Müller-Thurgau is showing great promise of having floral, apple notes with good acidity 

 

Kent 

  • With ~50 vineyards, “the Garden of England” in southeast England, is known for growing cereal crops, orchard fruit, and other food.
  • Here, the White Cliffs of Dover form the coastline and this area shares the same bedrock as that of Champagne, Chablis and Sancerre.
  • Other unique areas in Kent Greensand Ridge and The Weald between ridges of North and South Downs.
  • The still wines from Bacchus, and exceptional sparkling from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay caught the eye of Champagne house Taittinger, who in 2015 became the first Champagne producer to invest in the UK 
  • Notable producers: Chapel Down, Biddenden, Gusbourne

 from Chapel Down site

Photo: https://www.chapeldownusa.com

Essex 

  • Research published in the Journal of Land Use Science  identified 83,000 acres of land in the UK that could be good for vineyards. Essex was cited as the top location.
  • Notable Producers: Dedham Vale, New Hall Vineyards (been around since the 1960s), West Street Vineyard

 From Dedham Vale Website

Photo: Dedham Vale Vineyard

Surrey

  • Second Champagne house investment with Pommery and Hattingley Valley in a partnership.
  • One of England’s largest producers - Denbie’s Estate is here (Elizabeth says it's "meh")

Hampshire

  • The home of England’s first modern commercial vineyard. Seyval Blanc and sparkling wine shine here. 

 

East Anglia

  • Norfolk and Suffolk have more clay so denser wines of  Bacchus are showing promise. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are also grown. 

 

South West England

  • Camel Valley – Cornwall’s largest vineyard is well esteemed

Photo courtesy of Camel Valley

 

UK Wine's Future:

  • The wines are now exported to more than 40 countries including: USA, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Other Europe, Canada, Finland, Australia, New Zealand, and China
  • There is and will continue to be a push for sustainable farming. The Sustainable Wines of Great Britain (SWGB) certification has 40% of the industry pledged to be more sustainable.

 

Top producers: Nyetimber, Chapel Down, Ridgeview (Sussex),  Gusborne, Harrow & Hope, Wiston Estates, Camel Valley Vineyard & Winery, Cornwall

 

_____________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

 

Aug 24, 2020
Ep 339: Puglia, Italy -- New World Wine From an Old World Country
46:05

In this show we tackle the heel of Italy’s boot (and the area that covers a part of the calf!): Puglia (pool-YA), or as some in the English speaking world call it, Apulia. (BTW -- the show we mention that is hysterical and has a character that says something often that sounds like pool-YA is called "W1A" and is one of our favorite shows!).

           

Puglia is spans 500 miles/800 km of the southeast coast of Italy. It juts out into the Adriatic and Ionian Seas but despite its proximity to marine air, the viticulture areas are surprisingly dry with little rain or humidity. Warm, sunny summer months have historically meant that Puglia is unencumbered by weather issues faced in more northerly areas.

 

This could have meant great quality wine, and in Greco-Roman times, that may have been true but in the modern era, not so much. The area became a major source for heavy red and white bulk wines that were shipped to producers in other parts of Italy and in France to beef up their vintages in years where Mother Nature provided less than ideal growing conditions.

 

Today, Puglia is in a transition from a bulk wine area to a quality wine area, and things are moving quickly. As New World wines rose to popularity and prominence in the 1990s and 2000s, Puglia’s producers realized they had more in common with parts of South Australia than with Veneto or Piedmont. They welcomed help from New World winemakers and since then the area has been modernizing and making better wines – the proof is in the new DOCGs and DOCs (restricted, delimited winegrowing regions) that have been created in the last 10 years.

 

The geography of Puglia ranges. Here’s the overview with the most important grapes:

  • The north is hillier, and more like Central Italy in its wine grapes and styles (Umbria, Tuscany) – Sangiovese and the Montepulciano grape are used more abundantly.
  • In central Puglia in on the east coast, near Barletta, Uva di Troia/Nero di Troia is emerging as the top indigenous grape, with Bombino Nero also showing promising signs.
  • In Taranto, near the Ionian Sea, Primitivo (Zinfandel) Sangiovese, and Montepulciano are popular.
  • In the south, on the Salento Peninsula, Negro Amaro and Malvasia Nera are dominant.

 

Every grape imaginable is grown in Puglia, but the main ones of interest that are unqiue to the area are:

  • Nero di Troia / Uva di Troia (the proper, registered name)
    • Traditionally used in blends to add acidity and refinement to wines with bolder flavor
    • When made well, wines of this grape taste like: red cherries, currants, violets, black pepper, tobacco, and are medium weight with high acid, and smooth tannin
    • We mentioned there are two different types:
      • A larger berried version that has been used for bulk wine but also, when grown well, can provide perfume and freshness
      • And a smaller berried version that is rarer but considered higher quality and is being used more often now
    • DOC appellations with Nero di Troia in the blend are: Rosso Barletta, Rosso Cerignola, Rosso Canosa, Cacc'e Mitte di Lucera, Orta Nova
    • DOCG appellations using the grape are: Castel del Monte Rosso Riserva, Castel del Monte Nero di Troia Riserva
  • Primitivo (Zinfandel)
    • Originally from Croatia, the grape is grown across Puglia and despite a vine pull financed by the EU that resulted in many old vines being destroyed, there remains some very old, high quality vineyards of Primitivo in Puglia
    • The Primitivo name signals the early ripening of the grape, which is one of the first varieties to be harvested in Italy.
      • The grape can over-ripen quickly, rise to very high sugar levels, and is not a very productive vine. It’s wines can suffer from a lack of pigment, which can be mitigated by oak aging
    • When made well, and not permitted to over-ripen wines can have sour and black cherry aromas with spicy, pepper, licorice, and garrigue (rosemary, thyme, lavender). Fresher styles are more like raspberry and can have higher acidity.
    • DOCs are: Gioia del Colle, Primitivo di Manduria, Lizzano, Terra d'Otranto, Gravina
    • Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale DOCG is for sweet wines made of the grape

 

  • Negro Amaro
    • A black grape variety grown all over Puglia, this thrives in the southern part in the Salento. The grape can handle heat, and is thick skinned so it is a very productive and hearty vine.
    • The smallish, oval, blue-black berries are packed with polyphenols, making structured, full-bodied wines
    • When well made, the wines of Negro Amaro are medium to full bodied with black fruit, tobacco, and sometimes tar notes. There are other versions that are lighter on their feet (especially the rosato made of this grape), and these area often blended with Malvasia Nera to make the wine more multidimensional.
    • Rosatos are dark in color with good acidity and flavors and aromas like almonds, strawberries, and oranges
    • DOCs using Negro Amaro are: Copertino, Salice Salentino, Squinzano, Leverano, Lizzano

  • Bombino Nero:
    • This grape is hard to ripen and often high acidity and low sugar levels. It is lighter and becoming popular in Puglia as an alternative to the rich, thick wines of the other red grapes
    • Bombino Nero is a preferred grape for rosato, as it bleeds color without excessive tannin. The evidence: there is a DOCG- Castel del Monte Bombino Nero for Rosato only

Producers I like:  A Mano, Cantele, Due Palme, Felline, Masseria LiVeli, Masseria Monaci, Taurino, Tormaresca (part of the Antinori family). 

 

Taste some of these wines and let us know what you think! 

 

_____________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

Aug 18, 2020
Ep 338: Glassware and Gadgets Revisited
50:06

We haven't done a show on this topic for a long time, so here's the 2020 update. We cover what to look for in glassware, decanters, wine fridges, wine openers, preservation systems and more. This is the skinny on what you need and what you don't (and why!).

Our picks are all on the Wine For Normal People store (where I make a tiny bit through affiliate money), but here's the list with some buying tips:

  • Glassware picks, well, I'll make you read this article from epicurious.com ( I wrote it so I believe in it!)

  • Decanters: they are good for removing sediment, aerating a full bottle, and heating up a too-cold wine. Make sure you get one that is easy to wash (forgot to mention that in the show)

  • Aerators: still a no-go for me. If you don't have the time to wait for a wine to unfold, drink something else.

  • Wine openers: the WFNP one, the electric one

  • Wine ice cubes: We like the thin plastic ones because we are the weight and color of stainless steel or rock can mess with the glass (break it) and the wine (discolor it)




  • Wine fridges: The fewer bells and whistles, the better. Make sure you think about how much wine you WILL consume in the future, as opposed to what you drink now. If your wine habit is growing, buy a slightly bigger fridge.


  • The Corksicle: This also serves as an aerator, but you would ignore that function if you take our advice. The main purpose of the device is to chill down the wine quickly. You put it in the freezer and the plastic icicle reaches down through the bottle to chill the wine. I'm not sold on it, but this is the only one that at least ONE of us thinks has promise. 


  • Yeti Wine tumbler: the only stemless that gets my ok, this keeps the wine at a perfect temperature every time. GREAT for the beach or any outdoor drinking!


  • Vacu-vin or other vacuum sealer: It will give you a day or three more with fresh wine, so it's a yes! 



  • Press-n-Seal for sparkling wine -- seriously.


  • Coravin: If you live alone or like drinking different things from your partner, or different things every night, this is worth the $200 - $400 plus the $50 refill cost a few times a year. The money you'll save in wine down the drain is well worth it! Make sure you always remove the foil and you don't use it on synthetic cork. Also, let the bottle stand upright for a few hours so it doesn't leak -- the cork will "heal" but it doesn't do so right away and that can leave a mess in your fridge.



www.coravin.com

  • Funnel and filter combo: Perfect for getting rid of floating cork, sediment, tartrate crystals -- the filter is a must. I know this may not happen to you, but occasionally you want to go to bed and you didn't finish all the wine in your glass. That's a good time to use the funnel!

Are there other gadgets that are fine? Absolutely, but this is our best of the best -- the ones that we find useful and necessary!

Let us know if you have additions.

_______________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

Aug 11, 2020
Ep 337: Feudi di San Gregorio and the Unrivaled Wines of Campania, Italy
01:05:56

Feudi di San Gregorio is the largest winery in Campania region of Southern Italy. The winery has fought to bring the region to prominence in the minds of wine drinkers looking for reds and whites unlike any others in the world (that you HAVE to try!).

 

Campania was the premier winemaking region in Italy in Ancient Roman times, but after the fall of Rome the producers chose to be grape growers/merchants, rather than winemakers. Although some made headway, it was after a large earthquake hit and destroyed much of Campania in 1980, that reinvestment in wine truly began.

 

To support local industry, along with another family, the Capaldo family began Feudi di San Gregorio in 1986 in the town of Sorbo Serpico in the province of Avellino. One son of the family, Antonio Capaldo grew up around wine but then he pursued business, leaving Campania to obtain a Masters in Management and Economics at the London School of Economics and a PhD in Economics and Finance from a joint program between LSE and University of Rome. By age 32, he was working at McKinsey (a top consulting firm) and made partner. On that very day, he quit consulting and got to work for his family’s winery in Campania, putting his skills and vision to work.

To my great delight, Dr. Antonio Capaldo, with his brilliance and razor-sharp humor, joins me to discuss the beautiful wines of Campania, one of my all-time favorite regions in Italy. He is the Chairman of Feudi di San Gregorio and shares his insights on the region, its appellations, what makes the land and grapes special, and the bright future Campania has ahead of it.

 

Some of the areas we mention:

  • Fiano di Avellino (I love this wine!)
  • Greco di Tufo
  • Lacryma Christi (white is Coda di Volpe, red is Piedirosso, Aglianico, Scianscinoso)
  • Irpinia
  • Aglianico – Taurasi, Irpinia, Aglianico del Vulture (in Basilicata)

Check out the beautiful wines (with their beautiful, mosaic labels) of Feudi di San Gregorio. They are everything we describe and more!

 

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

Aug 04, 2020
Ep 336: Santorini, Greece and it's divine white of Assyrtiko
38:40

Santorini is one of Greek wine's guiding lights. The wines from this ancient volcanic island are unlike any other – exhibiting fullness, smoky minerality, and acidity that you won’t find elsewhere. The whites of Assyrtiko are among the best Greece has to offer. The fascinating history and legacy of viticulture will transport you to this lovely Mediterranean paradise. In this show, we take you on the ultimate armchair travel destination: the island of Santorini, a Greek paradise!

Here are the show notes:

  • Santorini is at 36.4 N latitude, in the Cyclades group of islands.  
  • The region has 2200-2900 acres/900-1,200 hectares of land are under vine
  • Santorini was formed by an enormous volcanic eruption around 2,600 years ago
  • Wine has been made since the ancient Greek and Roman times but a Venetian crusader took over in 1336 and made the sweet wines of the Assyrtiko grape, Vinsanto, popular around the Mediterranean

  • On the poor, volcanic soil on this hot windy island, the grapes are trained via an ancient pruning system, called “kouloura." The trunk is trained into a basket-like or wreath-like shape so the grapes hang on the of the basket, protected from wind and harsh sun
  • Some of these basket trained vines may be over 400 years old; with Assyrtiko making up 70-80% of the plantings. 

 

  • In this dry, harsh climate with less than 10 inches of rain per year, grapes struggle. They're well adapted to the heat and wind, and the diurnal temperature swing at night helps them maintain their characteristic acidity.
  • Reds: Mandilaria and Mavrotragano  represent 20% of Santorini's vineyards. 
    • Mavrotragano:used to only be for sweet wines. But it does seem to have good potential for dry wines'
    • Mandilaria (which M.C. Ice believes is picked by Baby Yoda) is grow around Greece and is tart and tannic, and often better in blends

 

  • White: Assyrtiko with Athiri and Aidani
    • Assyrtiko is a tough skinned variety. Drought, wind, and heat resistant. Regardless of heat, it maintains its acidity as it ripens. high acid grape. It makes a dry Wie with citrus, mineral, smoke, pumice, lemon rind, jasmine aromas and a saline, stony, quality when you taste it. The wines are full bodied. 
    • Athiri is sweet, fruity and aromatic with lower acidity so it's a good blending partner with Assyrtiko. Aidani is similar.

 

Types of wine

  • Santorini PDO: is 75% or more Assyrtiko, 25% Athiri and/or Aidani. 
  • Nykteri: the Greek term for 'working all night', the grapes are  harvested at night to avoid the hot temperatures. The wine is at least 75% Assyrtiko with Athiri and Aidani. It is aged in oak for a minimum of 3 months, and creates a dry, high acid wine with  mineral, citrus, and peach flavors and aromas.

  • Sweet Vinsanto: This dessert wine has great acidity to
  • offset the dried orange peel, fig, and apricot aroma always with a salty mineral note, typical of Assyrtiko (the wine must be at least 51% of this grape with Aidani and Athiri).
    • Vinsanto as a name, comes from the Venetian era of dominance - wines from the island were labeled, “Santo,” for Santorini -- “vin” or “vino”,  the Italian word for wine -- Vinsanto. The EU recognizes this as a separate, distinct, historical product only from Santorini and different from Italy's "Vin Santo"

 

Producers we mention: Hatzidakis, Estate Argyros, Gaia, J Boutari & Son, Vassaltis, Venetsanos, Domaine Sigalas, Gavalas, Santos

 

 

________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

 

 

Jul 29, 2020
Ep 335: The Grape Miniseries-- Gewurztraminer
44:36

That's right, no umlaut for my show notes on this grape. I consider Alsace the true home of this grape and the place we should be looking for the most spectacular versions. For that reason, I stick with the French way of spelling it 😉

Gewurztraminer (guh-VERTZ-tra-MEEN-ah)is one of the most distinctive grapes and makes one of the most overtly perfumed, full-bodied whites in existence. The lychee, rose, citrus, incense, and smokey notes can be intoxicatingly fantastic or WAY too much.

Here are some quick show notes on the grape's past and regions where it's grown. 

Gewurzt grappes@2x

 

Aromas and Flavors

  • "Gewürz" means “spice” or "herb" but the grape was named so because of it's high levels of perfume and aromatics (it can smell like warm spices and pepper, but that's not the origin of the name)
  • The Gewürztraminer grape is actually pink to red in skin color and it generally makes deep gold wines, sometimes with a copper tinge

 

  • The grape has high natural sugar, so sometimes sweetness remains in the wine and many times the ABV reaches 14%
  • The most distinctive aromas and flavors of Gewürztraminer are: lychee, peach, melon, oranges, tropical fruit, roses, ginger, incense, smoke, pepper and sweeter spices

 

  • The effect of the aromas and flavors are so strong, they are sometimes too much for people, especially because bad versions of the wine have low acidity and can be flabby. Good versions strike a BALANCE between richness and acid, and avoid the bitterness possible from the phenolics of the darker skins. 

 

DNA/Parentage

  • The grape is a derivative of the ancient Traminer grape from the village of Tramin in South Tyrol, which is in Alto-Adige in the northeast of Italy
    • Pinot is its parent
    • Gewurztraminer is an aromatic (musqué) version of Savagnin

 

In the vineyard

  • Gewürztraminer is extremely picky. It's hard to grow, needing cool sites and limestone, marl, or granite soils to shine.
  • If picked too early, the resulting wine will have acidity but be missing the beautiful aromatics we expect from Gewürztraminer. If picked the overripe, the aromas are too strong, the acidity too low, and a bitterness creeps in, that makes the wine completely unpalatable

Regions:

  • Alsace in France makes the best Gewurztraminer.  There are only 7,000 acres or so but this is the best there is. The styles range from very dry to very sweet (Vendange Tardive, Selection de Grains Nobles).
    • Top Alsace Producers of Gewürztraminer: Léon Beyer, Zind Humbrecht, Muré, Schlumberger, Cattin, Domaine Weinbach

 

  • Germany makes Gewürztraminer (with the umlaut!) but it is very different from the wines of Alsace. There are about 2,000 acres here and much of it is in a relatively dry style, that seems to unfortunately crush the flamboyant nature of the grape. In a cool country like Germany, the grape needs warm sites to avoid spring frost and assure fruit set, so 2/3 of German "Traminer" is in Baden and Pfalz.

 

  • Italy is the native home of the grape -- it began on the cool slopes of the Alps in Trentino Alto-Adige and the grape is named after the town of Tramin. Styles run the gamut so it's important to buy from good producers. Elena Walch and Hofstatter are two solid ones. 

  • Other places the grape grows in Europe include: Luxembourg, Spain, Switzerland, Austria (in Styria, specifically), Hungary, Slovenia, Romania and all over Eastern Europe, although likely it is not the clone of Gewürztraminer we see in Alsace, but some less aromatic version. 

 

New World:

  • Australia has plantings in South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and New South Wales

 

  • New Zealand has had success on the North Island, near Gisbourne and Hawkes Bay

 

  • Chile has some promising spots in the south

 

  • Canada grows Gewürztraminer in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, and in Ontario, Prince Edward County, the Niagara Peninsula, among other spots

 

  • In the US: Washington, Oregon, the Finger Lakes of New York, and my favorite spot: Navarro Vineyards in Anderson Valley

To wrap, we discuss good food pairings: spices like ginger, tamarind, coriander, and salty things like soy sauce or tahini are great with Gewurztraminer. 

 

We decide that Gewürztraminer is like our dog, Ellie. Very cute, awesome when awesome, but kind of a diva about everything! 

 

Go and try some great versions of this wine! I promised MC Ice we would get a Grand Cru of Alsace to try so I could prove that there IS a version out there he would like. I will keep you posted! 

 

________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

Jul 22, 2020
Ep 334: Hungarian Wine Overview with Zoltan Heimann of Heimann Winery
01:03:23

Zoltán Heimann of Heimann & Fiai Winery helps present the wines of Hungary.

 

He keeps me on task with the proper pronunciations (very hard and the reason it’s taken me so long to cover this country, honestly!), and gives us an overview of what we can expect from Hungary and its wines, before focusing in more on his beloved region of Szekszárd (sex-ARD), known mostly for its famous Kadarka red wine. The Heimanns have a long history of farming in Hungary, and Zoltán has a global view from his education at Geisenheim in the Rheingau Region of Germany (one of the best wine schools in the world). He has a lot to teach us about Hungarian wine – its history, its geography, its grapes, its wines, and its future, which he is helping drive.

 

A few things for clarification:

  • When Zoltán refers to small winemakers, he refers to them as a Hobby Industry. Because of the recording, it’s a bit hard to understand. Just remember that as you listen!

  • Please don’t make fun of me for having no clue how to pronounce anything right. I told Zoltán before I started that it was going to be rough and he was patient as anything!

 

These show notes are more about pronunciation and help with the regional names than anything else. If you listen to the show, you’ll need to refer to these (maybe often!).

 

After a conversation about history, Zoltán talks about how Hungary is in the Carpathian Mountain basin with the Danube River dividing the country and the Tisza River near Tokaj in the east.

  • The hills (some quite high, others undulating) make a crescent from the northeast around the north to the southwest
  • A large plain, the Hungarian Plain, is in the middle of the country and is where bulk wine, paprika, and lots of food production takes place
  • A smaller plain, near Austria is in the northwest of the country
  • The climate is continental, with cold winters, hot summers

Image: Topographical map of Hungary

We talk about the main grapes of Hungary:

  • Whites:
    • Furmint (FOOR-mint): The main grape in Tokaj, now winemakers are using it for dry wine. It can be like limes and oranges, smoky, even spicy, and quite acidic – the challenge is to tame the acidity through good vineyard practices and proper winemaking that doesn’t cover the essence of the grape (i.e., no oak)

    • Hárslevelű (HARSH-levalew): The name means “linden leaf”, a plant that smells like honey, smoke, and pears. Zoltán explains that Hárslevelű is like a smoother, softer version of Furmint 

    • Juhfark (YOU-fark): A novelty that is made mainly in Somlo (Showm-LO), in the northwestern (ish – kind of central northwestern) area of the country, we’ll see more in export markets than they will in Hungary. The volcanic soil here makes the wines smoky, ash-like, and minerally…with just a little moodiness that only a volcanic soil can express

    • Olaszrizling (said how it’s spelled): Also known as Welshriesling, the grape has traditionally been a neutral, workhorse grape for bulk whites. Zoltán says there are more and more producers getting great flavors from this grape, so it’s one to watch.
    • Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and other international varieties are also cultivated
  • Reds:
    • Kékfrankos (cake-FRAHN-kosh): Blaufränkish in Austria, this is the main component in Bull’s Blood of Eger and the grape that Heimann is concentrating on as a uniquely Hungarian expression of the grape – spicy, intense and interesting

    • Kadarka (said how it’s spelled): Zoltán explains that this is a very difficult grape to grow. Two in 10 years the harvest will go badly. The grape has big bunches and is prone to rot. It takes so much to grow that most vintners have no use for it. Heimann is one of the premier producers of Kadarka and aim to make an international reputation for this Pinot Noir-like grape

We move to the major wine regions

  • In the northeast/Upper Hungary: Tokaj, Eger
    • Tokaji: The dry and sweet (Tokaji aszú, Tokaji eszencia) of Furmint, Hárslevelű


    • Eger: Basalt/volcanic soil with loess can create excellent wines. The red blends are called Egri Bikavér or Bull’s Blood, the newer white blends (dreamed up in recent years as a marketing idea in the region) made of muscat and native grapes called Egri Csillag (EGG-ree chee-laug), known as “the Star of Eger”

  • Near Lake Balaton: Somló, Badacsony

 Image: Balaton, the largest lake in Europe

    • Somló (showm-LOW): Made of the smoky white Juhfark and other native whites

    • Badacsony: Known for fuller bodied, minerally whites with good acidity. A combination of Olaszrizling and native grapes. Volcanic soils make these wines unique

  • Sopron
    • Sopron (SHOW-pron): Located adjacent to Neusiedl (noy-ASEED-el) in Austria and the Burgenland region, these wines are mainly Kékfrankos (Blaufränkisch) and are similar to those of Austria

  • Pannon: Villány, Szekszárd
    • Villány (ville-AHN-ee): With excellent marketing, a strategic and unified vision, and excellent Cab Franc, this region has succeeded in getting its wines to market

    • Szekszárd (sex-ARD): Kardarka, Kékfrankos, and other reds thrive here. Heimann is on the cutting edge of reviving this region

To wrap up, Zoltán and I discuss the potential for Hungary, the new generation, and all we have to look forward to from Hungary.

________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Jul 14, 2020
Ep 333: Richard Betts, Former Master Somm, Shows What Moral Fortitude REALLY Looks Like
01:07:36

After studying geology and gaining a BS, an MS and nearly a JD, Richard Betts discovered a love of wine. He served as the wine director at The Little Nell in Aspen from 2000 to 2008, and while there, in all his spare time, in 2003, Richard was the 9th person to ever pass the Court of Master Sommeliers’ Masters Exam on the first attempt.

Richard co-founded the wine labels Betts & Scholl in 2003 and Scarpetta in 2006 and founded Sombra Mezcal in 2006. Today, Richard runs Komos Tequila and Superbird Paloma (in a beautiful can), My Essential Wines, and the wine from Barossa in South Australia,  “An Approach To Relaxation.”

 

Richard is the New York Times best-selling author of “The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert” and “The Essential Scratch & Sniff Guide to Becoming a Whiskey Know-It-All.”  And after nearly two decades as a Master Sommelier, and feeling disillusioned by the lack of evolution in the organization, Richard has altered the wine world forever, by being the first person to resign as a Master Sommelier. He is here to tell us about his journey and his decision.

Here are the show notes:

  • Richard covers his background and his path towards becoming a Master Sommelier. He takes on a journey of what it was like for him in the early 2000s and how the Court of Master Sommeliers of that time fostered his love of learning and wine
  • We talk about Richard’s growing concerns about the Court of Master Sommeliers over time and then we delve into the two major issues that made him quit the organization:
    • The Cheating Scandal of 2018, in which a Master Sommelier gave away answers to the blind tasting portion of the exam to several people in California, and then the Board revoked all certifications of the credential around the world with no explanation or apology.
    • The apathy of the Board of Directors of the Court of Master Sommeliers to the Black Lives Matter Movement, and their veto of a statement of inclusivity to remain “neutral.”
  • Richard tells us how he quit the organization and the painful and extensive steps he took to try to fix things before he made this drastic step.

 

To editorialize: Richard is a hero in the wine world. He has left an indelible mark that screams “I value integrity over status and exclusivity.” His moral compass, intelligence, and down-to-earth style and, ultimately, its lack of fit with the Court should have us all questioning why we give so much deference to those with the credential, when it is a reductive look at one’s ability to take an exam well, not to be the best wine professional s/he can be.

 

 

Bravo to Richard. He is a hero and a model for us all.

Here is a link to his resignation letter.

 

_______________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

Jul 07, 2020
Ep 332: Tahiirah Habibbi from the Hue Society Is On a Mission to Diversify Wine
51:18

Tahiirah Habibi grew up in north Philadelphia, graduated from Penn State University and began working in hospitality, while taking wine classes at night to begin her journey of becoming a sommelier and pioneer. 

In 2012 Tahiirah opened the St.Regis, Bal Harbour. She later moved on to leadership positions at Michael’s Genuine and Baoli. Frustrated with the lack of diversity in the industry she believed her skills could bridge the intersection of wine and culture.  

 

In 2017, she launched The Hue Society as a safe space for the community to learn, commune and find resources in one place. Tahiirah has been featured in Ocean Drive as one of the top 5 female sommeliers, VinePair, Upscale Magazine, David Banner Podcast, and Imbibe Magazine to name a few.

With a decade as a sommelier in some of the top end restaurants in Miami, Tahiirah is an accomplished wine professional yet she has struggled every step of the way to gain recognition, and to cope with the overt and covert racism that exists in the industry. She discusses her difficult experiences, including the incident that prompted her viral video describing how the Court of Master Sommeliers requires all candidates to call them “Master” and what that means to her and other black and brown people who take the exam.  Watch Tahiirah's video from Instagram about her experience with the Court of Master Sommeliers here.

 

After we discuss the issues, Tahiirah uses her never-ending positivity and her penchant for action and problem solving to explain why she founded the Hue Society, which aims to provide a safe space for black wine lovers to come together, learn about wine, and enjoy the process without feeling the need to assimilate. She discusses the Roots Fund, founded this year with Master Sommelier Carlton McCoy, to help fund people of color on their journeys into wine professions and how we can support her mission and vision by being more proactive about forming more multi-racial communities of wine lovers.

Discussing these issues and hearing this perspective is an essential step in changing wine so it reflects more of what the world looks like, not just what wine has traditionally represented. If you listen with an open mind, there are many important ideas Tahiirah shares in this show.  

 

To learn more about The Hue Society and the Roots Fund, please click here.

Tahiirah's article in Wine Folly is here

 

_______________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

Jun 30, 2020
Ep 331: Carnuntum -- Austria's Newest, Oldest Quality Red Wine Region with Christina Netzl
56:37

Carnuntum is a small wine region in Austria with only 2% of the wine growing area, but it packs a punch in quality. A short drive from Vienna, Carnuntum is an old Roman hub, with a rich history and its wine is only just making an impact on the international wine scene. Christina Netzl, from Weingut Netzl joins – a producer who is largely responsible for putting this region on the map and making its red wines, especially of Zweigelt, so well-known and respected.

Christina - Jenny and Francois Selections

Here are the show notes:

  • We discuss the location of Carnuntum, its storied Roman history, and its unique position in Austria as an extremely high-quality wine region.
  • Christina gives us an idea of what the terroir is like in Carnuntum, the challenges with a windy climate, and the positive effects of the Danube, Lake Neusiedl, and the Pannonian Plain (which was once an old seabed!) on the climate and weather in the region.

  • We learn about the differences between the reds of Burgenland to the south, and the small Carnuntum region: the reds in Carnuntum are acidic, fresh, with bright fruit and ample spice. The wines are never overshadowed by the use of oak, which is used to support flavors, not to get “in front of the fruit” (I loved this phrase!).

 

Christina tells us about the very long, drawn out process of getting a Districtus Austriae Controllus (DAC) designation for Carnuntum.

  • We learn how very collaborative Carnuntum is – all winemakers had to agree to the standards of the DAC before it was finalized (very unusual!)

 

  • We discuss Carnuntum’s own classification system. Here are the German names:

    • Gebietswein (regional wine)
    • Ortswein (village wine)
    • Riedenwein (single-vineyard wine)

  • When wines can’t be classified as Carnuntum, they’re designated “Niederösterreich” which is sort of like Vins de Pays d’Oc (like from all of the Languedoc, for example) in France. The wines can come from a very large area all over the northeastern part of Austria. For smaller producers, it’s usually from their individual area, but the wine doesn’t qualify for the stricter DAC regulation.
  • Christina explains "Rubin Carnuntum”, a Zweigelt made in a certain style by a small group of producers (each has one under her own label – e.g., Netzl Rubin Carnuntum)
  • We discuss the name Zweigelt, and the link to its creator, an enthusiastic member of the Nazi party.

Christina tells us about the importance of Netzl working the land organically, how she is thrilled when she travels that people even know Austria makes wine, and the challenges she has had both as a woman, a young person, and a daughter taking over a family business.

A really fascinating look at an up and coming, (yet old and well-established) region!

 

_______________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine site with fantastic, hard to find wines -- you won't regret it! 

 

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

Jun 22, 2020
Ep 330: Journalistic Integrity in Wine with Don Kavanagh of Wine-Searcher
01:06:47

The question comes up again and again in wine: who can we read that is trustworthy and who reports on the truth? We know it isn't the glossy magazines and many industry wonks are all in the pocket of high end producers and beholden to them so they can stay in the "club" and continue to drink expensive wine in their elite circles. 

 

There is one guy, however, that you can trust. And that is Don Kavanagh the editor of Wine-Searcher's journalistic arm. He has spent the past 25 years either working in the wine trade or writing about it, in his native Ireland, the UK, and New Zealand. He is far from an insider and his dedication to telling things as they are -- as a true observer of situations rather than a judge, jury, or partisan -- is clear in all that he writes and publishes. 

Don is a truly normal person. Unlike people who were graced with expensive bottles at his parents' dinner table, he worked his way through the wine trade, working in the UK and learning about wine (while also laying bricks, doing construction and being a bouncer), setting up his own shop in New Zealand, and then attending journalism school before launching a successful career at newspapers, wine trade publications, and now Wine-Searcher. I really relate to his story, having grown up in a home without luxuries myself and having to work many jobs to pay the bills.

 

Don's commitment to honest representation of facts led him to doggedly pursue the 2018 scandal in the Court of Master Sommeliers in which a board member gave away the answers to portions of the exam. This led to all candidates being de-certified and was a big enough story to hit the international news.

 

While the Court turned to its friends in the wine trade to quickly sweep the scandal and all of the implications it had under the rug, Don kept asking hard questions. He was the single voice in the wine trade that wouldn't let it go. To date, the Court of Master Sommeliers has still never answered his questions nor have they discussed the changes they would make to the exam that would fix some of the problems Don's stories highlighted. 

 

We discuss the issues with the wine industry at large, the certification culture that has emerged, the elitism, and how advertiser dollars drive what gets published and what stays quiet (we mention this disturbing yet honest article by Richard Hemming, Master of Wine  “Why Wine Writers Don't Hold The Trade To Account”?). 

 

We discuss how the industry can be fixed, and come to a few conclusions.


If you ever wanted to hear about the underbelly of the wine industry and how wine writing works when advertisers in the industry are involved, as well as the power structure that prevents more honesty in wine, this is the podcast for you. Sign up for the Wine-Searcher newsletter to keep up with him. 

 

Don is one of the best guests I've ever had and I personally love this show! 

 

_______________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

To sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

And get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine club, which is the REAL DEAL!  

 

Jun 15, 2020
Ep 329: Muscadet - The Overlooked White of the Loire
39:06

The wine world often looks at Muscadet with disdain for its lighter body and subtlety of flavor. But for white wine lovers who care less about showiness and want something with the interplay of acidity with nutty, bread flavors and soft textures, this historic wine is a thrill. There is far more to this wine than there used to be, as it has continued to improve since the 1980s and seems to get better every year.

Source: Vins Val de Loire

This week we discuss this westernmost area of Loire Valley, which lies along the banks of the river and its tributaries. We review Muscadet and the grape Melon -- its storied history – from being a defiled grape in Burgundy (it was outlawed in 1567!), to finding its place in the Loire (albeit with a strange name), to moving from just a grape to be distilled to a legitimate wine that, at the top end, can age more than a decade.

Here are a few of the show notes that you may have missed:

  • Muscadet is not the name of the grape (that’s Melon de Bourgogne) or a place (that’s the Pays Nantais) but it is a huge part of the AOC system and there are many appellations named after it.
  • The maritime climate in the Muscadet area makes it warmer than other parts of the Loire – the Gulf Stream, the river, and the humidity make for a more consistent temperature. But the perils of this area are many – rain, frost, ice storms, hail are all possible and can be devastating to the vines.
  • As we mentioned, Muscadet is scattered across many areas – some of it is gently rolling hills near the river, much is in fertile flats near the estuary. The best areas are on the hills.
  • This area was once a hotbed of volcanic activity. Soils vary here – granite and gabbro (a harder form of granite) make up the subsoils in the better regions, yielding complex wines. Gneiss, sand, silt, and gravel provide much-needed drainage – in this are with so much moisture the vines must stay dry!
  • Lest you think this area is one-note, there are now producers like Domaine l’Écu, Jo Landron and Pépiere that make wines from multiple terroir to show their differences!

The grape, the wine, the appellations:

  • There is only one grape permitted in Muscadet: Melon de Bourgogne
    • In the Pays Nantais, other grapes do grow -- Folle Blanche, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Pinot Noir
  • The styles of the wines have changed over the years. Producers used to pick early but of late, they prefer to pick later to develop more flavor. This presents a tradeoff between fruit and complexity with higher acidities. Still, the ripeness is limited – there is a maximum alcohol for Muscadet of 12% ABV.
  • Muscadet is best described as a wine that is salty, acidic with lemon, lime, chamomile, herb and gunflint aromas and flavors. With techniques like sur lie aging (to promote autolysis), bâtonnage (lies stirring), fermenting in oak barrels, and extended skin contact the wines acquire a soft, bready, creamy texture that is unique to this wine – it’s light yet has subtle dimension when made well.

There are 4 main appellations:

  • Muscadet: Light-to-medium-bodied floral, fruity notes and good acidity. It can be very meh, as it’s often not grown on the best sites.
  • Muscadet Sèvre et Maine: (sub AOC) 75% of output. This is the largest Muscadet appellation and it’s the home of the top wines. The area is where La Petite Maine and La Sèvre Nantaise rivers meet. It has much more dimension, flavor, and aroma than general Muscadet –there is more elevation, better soil types, and the wines are generally aged sur lie for more interest. We mention special terroirs/CRU
    • Muscadet Sevre et Maine Clisson
    • Muscadet Sevre et Maine Gorges
    • Muscadet Sevre et Maine Le Pallet
  • Muscadet Coteaux de la Loire: In the northernmost area, the quality and ripeness of the grapes varies based on vintage. Cooler years don’t bode well for this region!
  • Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu: In the southwest around Grandlieu Lake, this wine is rich, full, and flowery with lower acidity but with good balance.

 

Top Producers: Pierre Luneau-Papin, Domaine de la Pépiere, Jo Landron, Stéphane, Orieux, Domaine du Fief aux Dame, Domaine de l’Ecu

Other areas we mention:

  • Coteaux d’Anciens --reds and rosés Gamay, semi-sweet whites of Pinot Gris
  • Fiefs Vendeens (+regional designation like Brem, Chantonnay, Mareuil, Pissotte, Vix are communes allowed): Chenin for whites, Pinot Noir or Cab Franc for reds
  • Gros Plant du Pays Nantais: Folle Blanche with some Colombard

 

_______________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

To sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

And get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine club, which is the REAL DEAL!  

Jun 09, 2020
Ep 328: The Wines of Lebanon
39:39

With a history that stretches back perhaps 9,000 years to 7,000 B.C., Lebanon contains some of the original winemaking areas. In spite of political turmoil, violence, and opposition to wine (and all alcohol) and winemaking, this country has always found a way to keep production alive. Its unlikely location and small size may seem, at first glance, to be an impossibility for quality wine but the geography and the fortitude of the people here have created a unique and enduring wine culture.

 

In the show we discuss the long history of Lebanon in wine -- from the Phoenicians, to the Greeks and Romans, monks, and then to the French, who had such a huge influence in their 30 year tie to this region between World War I and World War II.

Below are some notes on the climate, the spellings of the regions, and the producers we mention:

  • Lebanon is only about 150 miles long and 60 wide but it is extremely varied in terms of altitude and topography -- with beaches, hills, and high, snow-capped mountains all contained within. 
    • It is at 33.5˚N latitude, about the same as Margaret River in Australia, and within the traditional grape growing band of 30˚-50˚ latitude (north or south)
    • There are four main geographic regions: the coastal plain, the Mount Lebanon range (altitudes of nearly 10,000 feet), the Bekaa Valley, and the Anti-Lebanon Range
    • Most wine producers are in the western Bekaa but some are experimenting with new terroir in Batroun and  areas in the Eastern Bekaa
  • The key to good wine in Lebanon is altitude: The Bekaa Valley has altitude of around 1,000m/3,820ft. This is a plateau but there is a moderating influence of Mount Lebanon and the area has snowmelt and rain runoff from the mountain to provide ample water for grapes
  • The soils are colluvial (runoff from mountains) so they are divers and contain limestone, clay/loam, stones, gravel and some red terra rossa soil similar to Coonawarra in South Australia

 

  • Climate is Mediterranean, with long, dry and often very hot summers. The mountains and valley get very cold at night and the diurnal temperature swings are so dramatic that grapes can maintain acidity if grown in the right places 
  • The Wines:

    • Only about 2,000 ha/4,942 acres are cultivated and yields are extremely low

    • The main reds are: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cinsault (the grape with the longest heritage), Carignan, Grenache, with Merlot, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Tempranillo and Pinot Noir

    • The main whites are: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Viognier, Muscat, Clairette, and Riesling along with indigenous grapes Merwah and Obaideh

    • The wines have always been known for excellent fragrance, spice, and a sweet aroma (but not flavor)
    • French influence is everywhere in these wines-- some of the top wine producers from France consult for wineries in Lebanon and help craft the wines of the top producers

 

Top Producers are:


Above: Ixsir

Most of these wines are around USD$20! They are worth a try! 

 

_____________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

To sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

And get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). Check out their awesome wine club, which is the REAL DEAL!  Wine Access is fantastic and satisfaction is guaranteed! Give them a try -- you won't regret it!  

Jun 03, 2020
Ep 327: Wine Ingredient Labeling Pushes Forward in the EU -- with Barnaby Eales
33:07

I know this topic may seem wonky, but consider a world where you could look at a wine label and see if there was extra, unwanted sweetness or if the wine was packed with chemicals (actual picture of big hulking winery, below).

From Pixabay

Image: pixabay
                  

                                                    

Barnaby Eales, international wine journalist takes us through the European Union's ultimatum to producers, the machinations they are going through, and the likely outcomes of transparency in wine. From the impact on top conventional producers (it should be great -- they can finally stand up to "natural wine" producers and say their products aren't loaded with chemicals) to the producers that may have to cop to a list of additives a mile long (industrial wine, I'm looking at you!), we go over the ramifications of this initiative, the complications behind it, and the benefits transparency brings to us all. 

Barnaby's article is here: The EU Moves on Wine Ingredient Labeling

Above: Barnaby Eales, Journalist

______________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

May 26, 2020
Ep 326: The Best Spanish Wines You've Never Heard of -- Jumilla and Yecla
38:53

Tucked into a small corner of southeast Spain is one of the greatest sources for delicious, multi-layered, and decadent reds you’ll find. In the province of Murcia, at latitude 39˚N lay two regions of Monastrell (Mourvèdre) production that have quietly churned out wine for more than 3,000 years: Jumilla (joo-ME-yah) and Yecla (YAY-clah).

Today, these regions are magnificent but receive so little press that we can get exquisite bottles that have the fullness, richness and depth for less than US$20.

 

In the podcast, we take you through the wine history of the region --from the early days with the Phoenicians to the Romans and then the Moors, and then a few strange brushes with the phylloxera root louse that at first propelled the region’s wines, then decimated the land and ultimately saved this area from a fate of nasty bulk production to make it a quiet haven of powerful reds.

 

We discuss the conditions in Murcia, discuss Bullas, a small Denominacíon de Origen and then we move to the big guns of this area: Jumilla and Yecla.

 

Jumilla 

Jumilla is the best area quality in Murcia and also makes the most wine. Vineyards are spread across a wide valleys and plateaus surrounded by mountains. A few geological and climate facts:

  • The high elevation of the vineyards -- between 1,300 -2,600 ft (400 -800 m) make it possible for grapes to cool at night and maintain acidity.
  • The soils here are dark and have a high limestone content. They’re permeable but have good moisture retaining properties, allowing the vines during the harsh summer droughts.
  • This is a very difficult place to grow things – it’s a harsh, dry, continental climate that is tempered a bit by Mediterranean breezes but is brutal in its dry heat.

 

Jumilla is one of Spain’s oldest DOs – its historical legacy as a high-quality wine producer is well known in its native land. It now makes whites, reds, and rosés, although the reds are the flagship for the region.

  • Red grapes include: Monastrell, Tempranillo (called Cencibel here), Garnacha Tinta, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot. The French varietals were added to the Monastrell to create more dimension in the finished wine (read: international appeal). This has been critically acclaimed, however some of it muddies the character of the grape.
  • White grapes include: Aíren, Macabeo, Pedro Ximenez, Malvasia, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Mosacatel de Grano Menudo
  • Although not mentioned in the podcast, the Jumilla DO has several areas it draws from: Jumilla, Montealegre, Fuenteálamo, Tobarra, Hellín, Ontur, and Albatana. 40% of the wine is from Jumilla proper.

Monastrell represents 85% of the vines planted and 80% of any blend must be this grape. The character of the wine is superb:  it tastes like dark fruit, earth, and minerals with a brambly, gamy character. With age, these flavors mellow to be more like dark soil, coffee and spice.

 

Although it isn’t prevalent, Jumilla makes rosé from 80% Monastrell too -- in the best versions it’s similar to the rosé of Bandol, in Provence, France with some acidity and tannin and, from a careful producer, the opportunity to potentially have a longer life than 1 year.

 

Modern technology, good farming and a consistent climate mean there isn’t a lot of vintage variation here although the region does have aging classifications similar to Rioja:

  • Vino joven ("young wine") or Sin crianza: little, if any, wood aging.
  • Crianza:
    • Reds: aged for 1 year total -- at least 6 months in oak, 6 months in the bottle.
    • Whites and rosés: at least 1 year with at least 4 months in oak.
  • Reserva:
    • Reds: aged for at least 2 years -- at least 12 months in oak, 12 months in the bottle.
    • Whites and rosés: aged at least 18 months with at least 6 months in oak.
  • Gran Reserva: Made only above average vintages.
    • Reds: 4 years aging, 12 months of which in oak and a minimum of 36 months in the bottle.
    • Whites and rosés: aged for at least 4 years with at least 6 months in oak

 

Wine Map of Spain

Yecla

Towards the end of the show, we discuss the smallest and northernmost wine zone in Murcia, Yecla. This area is landlocked by other DOs: Jumilla DO to the southwest, Almansa DO to the north, and Alicante DO to the east. It’s 50 miles (80km) inland and represents a transition from more coastal Mediterranean influences to hotter, arid continental conditions.

 

Yecla is similar to Jumilla in that its altitude allows the grapes to maintain acidity at night, creating balance in the wines.

  • White grapes: Airen, Macabeo, Merseguera, Malvasia, Moscatel de Grano Menudo, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay. These wines are usually blended. A small amount of sparkling wine is also made here.
  • Red grapes: similar to those of Jumilla, but the blends must have a least 85% Monastrell. The area has transitioned from making a light, very fruity red to making more serious reds with spice mineral and red fruit notes, after seeing the success Jumilla has enjoyed.

If you haven’t tried these wines yet, get on it. They will become your new go-to and a total revelation for your palate (and wallet!).

 

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

May 19, 2020
Ep 325: The Greats -- Alsace Riesling
52:16

Alsace Riesling is, without a doubt, one of the greatest white wines of the world. With its rich body, effusive flavor that ranges from flowers to fruit to nuts and spice, and acidity to keep it in balance, this liquid gold has been famed for centuries. It was the wine that got me into wine, my "aha" wine but even without that, I would still love the wine. 

Alsace has a rich history (it's been the ball in a ping pong match between Germany and France for centuries), and a complex geology and climate.

 

Alsace is a land of paradoxes. It labels wines by grape and bottles in tall German-style but its wines are distinctively French in their elegant, silky, voluptuous style. It is one of the most northerly growing regions in the world at (47˚ - 49˚  north latitude) and yet the summers are hot, dry, and sunny due to its location in the rainshadow of the Vosges Mountains. It is a small area, yet it contains 13 soil types, and more microclimates than can be counted. 

There is wonderful wine to be had from Riesling -- from the basic wines of the plains to crémant (sparkling) to unctuous sweet wines (Vendanges Tardives and Selection de Grains Nobles) but the Greats of Alsace are the top wines of the Grands Crus.

 

These 51 sites are not all exceptional, but those that are make wines of unparalleled aroma, flavor, and texture that still have the pointed acidity you'd expect from Alsace. When you get a great Alsace Grand Cru Riesling, it is a memorable experience that you never forget. Here are a few details that may have been hard to catch from the show:

 

Geology and Climate deets:

  • We discuss the graben (not the mythical creature we posit it could be and for which we provide side effects): a trough formed by two parallel faults that rubbed and broke many geological eras ago.
  • We mention the various soil types -- volcanic, gneiss, granite, schist, limestone, marl, sand, loess, loam alone and together

 

We discuss the classifications of Alsace:

  • Alsace AOC 
  • Alsace Communes:
    • Bergheim
    • Blienschwiller
    • Coteaux du Haut Koenigsbourg
    • Cotes de Rouffach
    • Cotes de Barr
    • Klevner de Heiligenstein
    • Ottrott
    • Rodern
    • Scherwiller
    • Hippolyte
    • Vallee Noble
    • Val St. -Gregoire
    • Wolxheim
  • Alsace Lieu-Dit: A plot or vineyard with special character – have to meet strict requirements

 

Alsace Grand Cru examples discussed:  

  • Schlossberg – 1st Grand cru, 1975
  • Hengst
  • Brand
  • Rangen  (challenging vineyard, ages well)
  • Schoenenbourg  (where Voltaire one owned vines)

Producers mentioned:

  • Reliably DRY producers: Trimbach (Clos Sainte Hune Cuvée Frédéric Émile), Ostertag and Kreydenweiss
  • Others: Zind-Humbrecht, Josmeyer, Hugel, Domaine Weinbach, Beyer

*All photos courtesy of Vins d'Alsace

__________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

May 14, 2020
Ep 324: Chile's Cool Climate Wines of Casablanca, San Antonio Valleys
33:05

Cool climate wines are in high demand, as many of us seek wines that are on the lighter side but still have fruit and ripeness. We usually turn to places of high latitude for that, but on this show we tell you about an unlikely region for some of the best and yet most affordable cool climate wine around: the Casablanca Valley, San Antonio, and Leyda Valley -- all in a small area at 33˚south latitude!

Kingston Family VineyardsPhoto: Kingston Family Vineyards

Here are the show notes:

Both located in the far western coastal areas of the Aconcagua wine region, Casablanca and San Antonio are in mountainous coastal country that experiences cool to cold breezes due to the Humboldt current coming up from Antarctica. There are a handful of producers that make wines from these areas, but thankfully most of them are widely distributed so we have a chance to try these acidic yet fruity wines with little hunting around. 

 

Valle de Casablanca

  • Casablanca and Valparaíso are famed (at least in their homeland) and were voted, as a unit, as one of the 10 Great Wine Capitals of the world. The food, wine, and the ease of visiting vineyards make it an ideal destination. 
  • Until the 1980s, livestock grazed and grain grew where vineyards would soon pop up. It was then that Pablo Morandé, who was working for the giant winery Concha y Toro, realized that the Casablanca Valley had tremendous potential to make cool climate wines like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Sauvignon Blanc. 
  • Within a few decades the area was thriving. Producers set up shop, including:  Montsecano, Kingston Vineyards, Casas del Bosque, Veramonte, Loma Larga, Quintay, Cono Sur – and Pablo Morandé's Bodegas Re 

 The Geography/Climate

  • Casablanca is in the eastern part of Valparaíso province just 30km/20 miles from the Pacific Ocean at its furthest point.
  • At 33˚S, the Humboldt Current from the Antarctic is the only reason viticulture can work so well here. The area has cool early morning fog, which both depresses temperature and keeps the air most -- important in this water-deprived area. Cool afternoon breezes and regular cloud cover slow the ripening period of the grapes. It is so cold here that spring frosts can be an issue! 
  • Similar to Santa Barbara, in California Casablanca is a transverse valley – it runs east to west, funneling in cool ocean air and creating wines that are flavorful yet highly acidic.
  • Look for excellent Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Viognier, Gewurztraminer, and Riesling

Chile Wine Map Wine For Normal People Book

 

San Antonio Valley and it's Zone, Leyda Valley

  • In province of San Antonio, only 55 miles (90km) west of central Santiago and south of Casablanca is San Antonio, which was planted a decade later than Casablanca, in the late 1990s. It is similar to its neighbor to the north, in that it is also heavily influenced by the effects of the ocean but here the mountains turn north to south again, and the area must rely on a closer proximity to the ocean and wind gaps in the coastal range to provide cool air. 
  • This is an up-and-coming area with a limited number of producers, many of them small. 
  • Sauvignon Blanc is the flagship wine but there is some great Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and sparkling wine as well. 

 

 The Leyda Valley is sub-region or zone of San Antonio

  • The valley is 9 miles from the coast and in some areas the vineyards are on the west (sea-facing) side of the coastal mountain range, so it’s quite a bit cooler than Casablanca, which is on the other side of the hills. 
  • The sharp diurnals, poor soils, and long growing season make Leyda's wine display fresh fruit flavors, ripe tannins, with high acidity.
  • Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, and Merlot shine here.
  • Unfortunately Leyda's growth is limited because it is so dry here. When winemaking began here, a 5 mile pipeline from the Maipo River in the south was built to irrigate vineyards. Those areas without water rights can't grow grapes, even if the exposures and soils are good. Until that gets resolved, Leyda will be limited to a few players. Viña Leyda and Garcés Silva are two wineries here – but Montes Alpha, Undurraga  and others source grapes to make wine from here.

 

These wines are all worthy of your time and attention! Go and get some! 

Kingston Family vineyardsPhoto: Kingston Family Vineyards

___________________________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Skylight Frame

If you want the perfect Mother's Day gift, you have to get a Skylight Frame! It's a digital frame that finally works and will keep you connected with your friends and family, with ease. There are three easy steps:

1. Connect Skylight to a power source and it powers up.
2. Tap our touch screen to connect to Wi-Fi in <60 seconds.
3. Send photos to your unique Skylight email, and they arrive in seconds. Your loved one just sits back & enjoys!

I love mine! You will love yours too! 

To get $10 off your purchase of a Skylight Frame just
go https://www.skylightframe.com/normal and enter code NORMAL! 

May 04, 2020
Ep 323: Dao Region of Portugal -- The Burgundy of the Iberian Peninsula
38:59

Located in north-central Portugal, just a three-hour drive from Lisbon, Dão is a small quiet region with outstanding, elegant, and distinctive wines. Named for the Dão river which carves a path through the rugged, old granite hills here, the region is the original home of Portugal’s top red grape, Touriga Nacional.

Map from the Wine For Normal People Book

Made up of tens of thousands of growers and small plots, just 5% of the land area of this region is planted to vines, 80% of which are red grapes. The hot, dry climate of this distinctive region is made possible by its unique position on a plateau sheltered on 3 sides by granite mountain ranges – the Serra da Estrela, the Serra do Caramulo, and the Serra da Nave.

 

Mountains protect the area from the capricious Atlantic and continental storms, and the provide altitude which means the grapes can cool down at night, hoarding precious acidity.  The granite subsoil also helps boost the acidity of the wines, making them fresh and bright, rather than dark and brooding as is often the case in the Douro wines.

 

There are seven subregions can be on the bottle: Alva, Besteiros, Castendo, Serra da Estrela, Silgueiros, Terras de Azurara, and  Terras de Senhorim, but you will rarely see them (at the time of this show in 2020, at least).

What can you expect from the wines?

Reds produce medium bodied wines with spicey, peppery, and red fruit notes. They can be earthy or even barnyard like with an excellent balance of alcohol and acidity. This is the new style of Dão, for which it has become known, and along with its myriad plots, this lightness and elegance is why some refer to the region as the Burgundy of Portugal. Older styles were harsh, tannic, and lacked both fruit and acidity – rustic to say the least. The grapes used here are:

  • Touriga Nacional as the leading red --At least 20% of every blend must be Touriga
  • Tinta Roriz (Tempranillo of Spain)
  • Jaen (Mencía of Spain)
  • Alfrocheiro Preto – a native to this area with dark color, dark fruit character and a good balance of alcohol and acid
  • Rufete – a lesser used, fruity red
  • And sometimes Baga, Bastardo (usually for lesser wines)

File:Touriga Nacional.jpg

Touriga Nacional

Styles: Whites used to be oxidized and like a day old apple but with better winemaking they are now refreshing  with citrus, mineral, and nut notes with great acidity. The best are exclusively made of Encruzado, with its floral notes and oily textures it is a white to seek out. Malvasia Fina, Bical, and Arinto are also used in whites.

Rosé and Sparkling  wines can also be found in the Dão.

Great producers to see out are:

  • Quinta dos Carvalhais – Sogrape -- (The Oaks Estate)
  • Quinta da Pellada/Quinta de Saes
  • Casa de Santar
  • Quinta do Vale das Escadinhas
  • Quinta de Lemos

 

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Skylight Frame

If you want the perfect Mother's Day gift, you have to get a Skylight Frame! It's a digital frame that finally works and will keep you connected with your friends and family, with ease. There are three easy steps:

1. Connect Skylight to a power source and it powers up.
2. Tap our touch screen to connect to Wi-Fi in <60 seconds.
3. Send photos to your unique Skylight email, and they arrive in seconds. Your loved one just sits back & enjoys!

I love mine! You will love yours too! 

To get $10 off your purchase of a Skylight Frame just
go https://www.skylightframe.com/normal and enter code NORMAL! 

 

StoryWorth is a fun and meaningful way to engage with family, especially with relatives you might not get to see often. This online service helps your loved-ones share stories through thought-provoking questions about their memories and personal thoughts. It’s the gift of spending time together, wherever you live.

 

Give the mom in your life the most meaningful gift this year with StoryWorth. Get started right away without the need for shipping by going to www.StoryWorth.com/normal. You’ll get $10 off your first purchase! 

Apr 28, 2020
Ep 322: The Hudson River Region of NY with Fjord Vineyards
46:21

Spanning a large portion of New York, just about an hour north of Manhattan, lies one of the oldest winemaking regions in the US: The Hudson River Region AVA.

This week Casey Erdmann and Matt Spacarelli of Fjord Vineyards join to talk about the Hudson River Region and the innovative things they are doing there. 

To start the show, MC Ice and I give a quick overview of the area:

  • We go WAY back to the glaciers and talk about how this area came to have so many different soil types, a varied terrain, and the mighty Hudson River.
  • We discuss the continental climate, and the challenges that come with heat and humidity (hint: grape vine diseases) 
  • We talk about how large the region is. It encompasses all or part of big counties:  Columbia, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester.
    • It is 224,000 acres, but just 450 acres are planted to wine grapes
  • We discuss common grapes here:
    • Vitis labrusca (native): Concord, Delaware, Niagara
    • French-American Hybrids: Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc,  Baco Noir (among others)
    • Vitis vinifera that is cold tolerant: Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc 

Then I discuss the region with Casey and Matt. Matt grew up in the region and his family owns the historic Benmarl Winery where he is the head winemaker and GM. He gives us great insight and detail around the region -- its history, its challenges, and its opportunities. 

File:Hudson River Valley.jpg

We have a lively discussion around French-American hybrids (we may or may not discuss how they taste like burnt hair), and what their role is for wine regions.

Finally we discuss Fjord Vineyards which was founded in 2013 so the couple to make wines of Vitis vinifera from local parcels that express the terroir of the region. They make balanced, sustainable wines of Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Albariño, and Cabernet Franc that reflect where they are grown and are delicious! 

 

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). 

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Skylight Frame

If you want the perfect Mother's Day gift, you have to get a Skylight Frame! It's a digital frame that finally works and will keep you connected with your friends and family, with ease. There are three easy steps:

1. Connect Skylight to a power source and it powers up.
2. Tap our touch screen to connect to Wi-Fi in <60 seconds.
3. Send photos to your unique Skylight email, and they arrive in seconds. Your loved one just sits back & enjoys!

I love mine! You will love yours too! 

To get $10 off your purchase of a Skylight Frame just
go https://www.skylightframe.com/normal and enter code NORMAL! 

Apr 21, 2020
Ep 321: The Greats -- Côte Rôtie, Rhône Valley
50:58

One of the greatest wines of the world is the Syrah-based Côte Rôtie, from the northernmost appellation in the northern Rhône. Named "roasted slope" after the sun that bathes the south-facing slopes, the region is less than 25 miles south of Lyon near the town of Ampuis, and is at the cool-climate limit for growing Syrah.

On the right bank of the Rhône, across 3 communes of Saint-Cyr sur Rhône, Ampuis, and Tupin-Semons, the vineyards are on extremes slopes at 180m/590 ft and 325m/1070 ft above sea level.
 

This week we explain what makes these wines, from this tiny, historic area, so very fascinating and why they truly are one of the greatest wines in the world. 

 

I think the best thing to do in the show notes this time is to list the things that are hard to catch on the show. Rather than a lengthy recap, this time I'll list the regions and producers mentioned!

 

Sub areas

 Ampuis: The area that lies above Ampuis town contains the best sites. The Reynard River serves as the geological dividing lie between the schist soils of the northern part of the appellation, and the granite soils in the south. 

Schist: 

  • Cote Brune – Schist soils make  powerful, tannic, darker
  • Chavaroche – Borders Cote Brune. Bernard Levet produces a single vineyard Cote Rotie from here
  • La Landonne – Famed for Guigal’s La Landonne but Gerinn, Rene Rostaing, Delas and Xavier Gerard also make wine from here
  • Cote Rozier- some of the steepest sites in Cote Rotie. Great wines include Ogier’s Belle Helene, and wines from Jamet, Guigal, Bonnefond and Gangloff
 
Granite:
  • Cote blonde – Vastly different soils and more Viognier. The soil is granite and the wines are more aromatic and lighter. The famed La Mouline vineyard is here
 

The village of Tupin  has no single vineyards but makes some great wine

The Village of Verenay is the next village upstream from Ampuis, and producers full, rich, long-lived wines. The vineyards of interest are Grandes Places, and Vialliere (10 hectares makes it quite variable in quality)

 St Cyr is in the far north of the AOC, past Verenay. It was added in the 1960s and is on schist but not as good as the wines near Ampuis. 
 

Top Producers

TRADITIONAL:  Domaine Gilles Barge –most traditional practices,Domaine Bernard Levet  
 
MODERN: Guigal, Gerin, Bonnefond
 

Middle ground:

  • Domaine Jamet: one of the brothers went off to set up his own domaine, Jean-Luc Jamet, both are very good
  • Rene  Rostaing: Rene's son Pierre took over a few years ago – wines are amazing. Single vineyards from Cote Blonde and La Landonee, Ampodium blend for early drinking.
  • Clusel-Roch  from Verenay, single vineyard from Grandes Places
  • Stephane Ogier
  • Vidal-Fleury (the merchant house for which Marcel Guigal's father once worked as cellarmaster but which now belongs to Guigal). 
  • Chapoutier

 

Top Vintages: 1997, 1998,  2001, 2003, 2007, 2009-10, 2012, 2015-19
 

_______________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). 

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

Skylight Frame

If you want the perfect Mother's Day gift, you have to get a Skylight Frame! It's a digital frame that finally works and will keep you connected with your friends and family, with ease. There are three easy steps:

1. Connect Skylight to a power source and it powers up.
2. Tap our touch screen to connect to Wi-Fi in <60 seconds.
3. Send photos to your unique Skylight email, and they arrive in seconds. Your loved one just sits back & enjoys!

I love mine! You will love yours too! 

To get $10 off your purchase of a Skylight Frame just
go https://www.skylightframe.com/normal and enter code NORMAL! 

Apr 14, 2020
Ep 320: The Grape Miniseries -- Carignan (Mazuelo)
41:37

Carignan or Mazuelo, as it's known in its native Spain, is a complicated grape that gets a terrible rap. But the truth is, in the right hands and growing in the right conditions, this grape can fashion powerful wines that are pure hedonistic pleasure! 

  Photo: Vins-Rhone

Carignan has a long history. The grape is likely from Aragon in northeast Spain, but it spread around the Iberian Peninsula. It’s current Spanish name, Mazuelo comes from Mazuelo de Muñó, a town in Castilla y Leon in northwest Spain. Carignan may have originated in its namesake town of Cariñena, which is a Denomiacíon de Origen (DO) that grows mainly Garnacha Tinta. From these parts of Spain, Mazuelo spread to Catalunya in northeast Spain and then during the reign of the Crown of Aragon to the area it ruled. The grape:

  • Was introduced to Sardinia, the Italian island, sometime between 1323-1720
  • Moved to Algeria where it became a high yielding grape that was exported to France to bolster French blends in the color, acidity, and tannin department

The grape became commonplace in France after three incidents: phylloxera in the late 1800s, a frost destroyed the other “workhorse” grape,  Aramon in 1956 and 1963, and the independence of Algeria of 1962 brought French-Algerian winemakers into the Languedoc-Roussillon region who brought their trusty workhorse grape.

Pied Noir from Algeria

The over vigorous nature of the grape made it produce rustic, flavorless wines with rough tannin and high acid. It contributed majorly to the wine lake of the EU (low quality wine that was subsidized by the EU and then needed to be dealt with because there was no demand for it). Nearly half the Carignan in the Languedoc was grubbed up in the 1990s and today no one is planting it, as the only value in it is in grapes that are more than 50 years old.

 

When the vines are old, the soil is poor, and the climate is hot, Carignan makes wines that are full of dark cherry fruit, blueberries, violet and other floral notes. It’s full-bodied with (sometimes dusty-feeling) tannins and great acidity, and moderate alcohol. Winemakers have to be careful to ensure the fermentation gets enough oxygen or the wines can take on a burnt match/reductive note.

 

Where does the grape grow??

 Old World: 

France: 80% of the Carignan plantings are in the Languedoc-Roussillon – and make ordinary Vins de Pays (countryside) wine. Some appellations: Minervois, Corbières, Faugères, Fitou, Languedoc, and St-Chinian each have a certain amount of Carignan specified in their AOCs and use carbonic maceration to soften the tannin and produce fruitier notes in their Carignan. The best wines come from old vines, as is the case in all areas.

 

Really the two best places for Carignano/Mazuelo are Italy and Spain...

Italy: The grape here is called Carignano and 97% is planted on the island of Sardegna, where it has been called Bovale Grande or Bovale di Spagna. Because of the name difference,  it was only recently discovered that this grape is Carignan. The grape grows well in the hot, dry south-western corner of Sardinia. The best co-op is Santadi, which makes soft, supple, fruity, and rich wine from the Carignano del Sulcis DOC.  Rocco Rubine and Terre Brune are great wines from the co-op.

Spain: Mazuelo is found as a dwindling part of the Rioja blend
(although Marquis de Murrieta makes a varietal Mazuelo). The place the grape shines is Catalunya, especially Priorat. Here the vineyard recipe for this grape is perfect: 100+ year old vines, schist slopes (llicorella), poor soils, and a hot, dry climate. The wines it yields are silky, rich, powerful and luscious, especially when blended with Garnacha.

 

In the old world you can also find the grape in Croatia, Cyprus, Turkey, Malta, Morocco, Tunisia and Israel.

 

New World

In the New World, the grape is found in Uruguay, Australia (South Australia),  Argentina, Mexico, and South Africa.

In the US, in California, the grape is spelled Carignane and has historically been used as  a major component in jug and box wines, and was a popular grape home winemaking in the 1970s and 1980s. Like all Carignan, the best in California is found where there is old bush vines – places like Mendocino, Sonoma, Contra Costa County and other areas.

 

Chile has great promise for the wine as well – especially with the ancient, dry farmed Carignan in Maule Valley.

 

There seems to be hope for Carignan as younger producers have taken an interest in giving it the attention it needs to make good wine. The grape has great potential!

__________________________________________________

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). 

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

Apr 06, 2020
Ep 319: How to Get Great Rhône Wine with Serge Doré, French Wine Importer
01:05:32

Serge Doré is a fan favorite and he returns to tell us about the place in France where he feels most at home: the Rhône. He's been in wine for decades, since he got his start in his native Quebec, and has been a wine importer and wholesaler out of Chappaqua, New York for almost as long as he's been in wine. To order any of the wines he mentions or those you find on Serge Dore Selections , go to Grapes The Wine Company

We've learned about life as an importer and about the business of wine in Bordeaux from Serge, and this time he tells us about the Rhône. If you are unfamiliar with the area, I'd check out the Rhône overview show first. This show goes into detail on regions and Serge regals us with stories of meetings with famous producers, and the spectacular wines they make. 

 

The show notes this week are primarily a list of the many producers Serge mentions in the show.

 

Big Northern Rhône Names:

  • E. Guigal (king of Côte Rôtie), 
  • Domaine Jean Michel Gerin (Côte Rôtie)
  • M. Chapoutier (king of Hermitage)
  • Domaine Jean-Louis Chave (Hermitage, mainly)
  • Cornas: Domaine August Clape, Domaine Alain Voge (the Cornas appellation is much improved, more elegant)
  • St. Joseph: J.L. Chave, Domaine Chez, Delas, Anthony Paret (also makes excellent Condrieu, a white-only appellation of Viognier)
  • Crozes-Hermitage: Laurent Fayolle, Cave de Tain

It's from the southern Rhône but here we also mention a Roussanne wine in this converasation of whites: Château de Beaucastel Châteauneuf Du Pape Blanc Roussanne Vieilles Vignes 

 

One great nugget Serge shares on Condrieu: It's good the year it is released, not after. Also, don't forget Hermitage Blanc -- it's stunning.

 Southern Rhône

 We discuss fewer producers and more about the differences in Cru:

  • Vinsobres: Higher in altitude, cooler climate, more elegant wine
  • Cairanne: Bigger wine, bolder than Vinsobres
  • Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Vacqueryas: Are all bolder styles
  • Others mentioned: Lirac, Rasteau, Beaumes de Venise

Serge tells us the trick to getting good Cotes du Rhone: which is buy a brand, not something you’ve never seen unless you know the importer or producer! If you want the Estate Côte du Rhône he imports:  Domaine de Dionysos.

Serge tells us the most important thing about the Rhône and maybbe about wine in general these days:

 “It depends on who makes the wine and the attention they pay to the wines” 

   

And according to Serge this is getting easier as the younger generation is looking to focus on quality not quantity! Go togo to Grapes The Wine Company to order any of the wines Serge discusses! 

 

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). 

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

 

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Mar 30, 2020
Ep 318: High Altitude Wines
38:29

High altitude wines are often discussed in the wine world, but what REALLY defines high altitude? There are a lot of features that would make a region qualify but the keys to determining “high elevation” are latitude and altitude and their cross section. At lower latitudes, elevations are way higher than at higher latitudes. Places at elevation share characteristics like cool nighttime temperatures, dryness (no mold or disease), later harvest dates, a good amount of wind, and higher levels of UV radiation.  

 

Among other things, we discuss this study (BMC Plant Biol. 2014; 14: 183. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4099137/) which discusses the genetic adaptation and metabolic changes that happen in high altitude grapes.

 

Source: Catena Zapata, Adrianna Vineyard -- Mendoza, Argentina

The upshot: thicker skins that protect against the heat of the day and the cool of the night produce wines with greater body, flavor and aromatics. Wines can be lower or higher in alcohol depending on the latitude, but the similarity of these grapes is that they taste like fresh, newly picked fruit becuase of the fresh acidity retained because of cooler temperatures at night, wind, and the long growing season.

 

We mention some examples of these vineyard areas. In Europe, we mention:

  • Val d’Aosta in Italy, below Mont Blanc in Alps
  • Dolomites in Alto Adige
  • Tenerife in the Canary Islands
  • Etna in Sicily
  • Armenia
  • I also refer to Switzerland and Jura and Savoie in France (although these French regions are not quite as high as the other regions we discuss)

 

In the New World

  • In the US, specifically Fox Fire Farms in Ignacio, Colorado (6,500 ft!)
  • Some of the world’s highest vineyards in South America:
    • Colomé Altura Máxima, in the province of Salta, Argentina at 3,011m/9,878 ft
    • In the JuJuy province of Argentina is the Quebrada de Humahuaca GI at 3,329m/ 10,922 feet above sea level, Claudio Zucchino makes his famed Uraqui blend
    • We mention Mendoza, Argentina
  • In South Africa, Mount Sutherland is at 1,500 m/4,921 ft

 

After some discussion, we conclude that “higher” does not automatically mean “better” and that although altitude is short hand for a fresh wine, unless it’s on a slope and at elevation, you can’t always rely on that heuristic!

 

Don't forget to sign up for online classes: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

 

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range). 

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

Mar 24, 2020
Ep 317: Valpolicella and Amarone from Veneto, Italy with Filippo Bartolotta
58:14

Filippo Bartolotta joins us again to explain the wonders and changing nature of the Valpolicella region in northeast Italy. Filippo tells us about the geological underpinnings of the region, how the winemaking styles developed here, and what's gone on in modern history. 

We cover things you many of you have asked about in the past, like...

  • Where and what Valpolicella is

  • The difference between Valpolicella, Valpolicella Classica, Valpolicella Ripasso, and Amarone della Valpolicella
  • We discuss Amarone and why it's hard to make, expensive, and HUGE as a wine (hint-dried grapes = intense wines!)
  • We talk about the appassimento technique and how it used to be used to help unripe grapes taste a little better

 

  • Filippo gives us a summary of the 13 valleys of the "Valley of many cellars" , as Valpolicella translates from Latin. He mentions some of the more awesome one like Fumane, Marano and Negrar(which I think we'll see on labels in the future)

  • We talk about the blend here and how a grape that we didn't even know existed a few decades ago is now a main part of the quality blends (Corvinone). 
  • Filippo goes over the flavor profiles of (from lightest to heaviest here...) and food that goes with it:
    • Valpolicella (lighter pastas)
    • Valpolicella Superiore (pastas with meat)
    • Valpolicella Classica (depends on the producer's styles)
    • Valpolicella Ripasso (bolder, heavier grilled meat and vegetables)
    • Amarone della Valpolicella (long, slow-cooked meats with a lot of flavor, game, hard cheeses and grilled vegetables)

And finally, the producer list:

  • Cult producers: Quintarelli, Dal Forno Romano
  • Others: Roccolo Grassi, Latium Morini, Secondo Marco (especially for Classica), Villa San Carlo, Bocaini Carlo (old school Ripasso), Novaia, Ca dei Maghi, Cà la Bionda, Bertani, Pasqua, Tenute Falezza, and Corte Sant'Alba (for biodynamic wines)

 

Check out Filippo's website for cooking classes and luxury custom tours of Italy! 

 

Don't forget to sign up for online classes: www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes

 

Thanks to our sponsors this week:

Thanks to YOU! The podcast supporters on Patreon, who are helping us to make the podcast possible and who we give goodies in return for their help! Check it out today:
https://www.patreon.com/winefornormalpeople

And to sign up for classes, please go to www.winefornormalpeople.com/classes! 

Get your copy Wine For Normal People Book today! 

 

Wine Access 

Visit: www.wineaccess.com/normal and for a limited time get $20 off your first order of $50 or more! 

I’m so excited to introduce Wine Access to you. Wine Access is a web site that has exclusive wines that overdeliver for the price (of which they have a range).

  • They offer top quality wines by selecting diverse, interesting, quality bottles you may not have access to at local shops.
  • Wine Access provides extensive tasting notes, stories about the wine and a really cool bottle hanger with pairings, flavor profile, and serving temps.
  • Wines are warehoused in perfect conditions and shipped in temperature safe packs. Satisfaction is guaranteed! 

Check it out today! www.wineaccess.com/normal 

Mar 18, 2020
Ep 316: Women of Bordeaux with Caroline Perromat of Ch Cerons and Sylvie Courselle of Ch Thieuley
49:47